“P.S. I Still Love You” by Jenny Han
3 out of 5 stars.
Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky were just pretending to be in love, but as time passed, it became less of a show for those around and more of a secret they shared. They were pretending, yet it was the most real thing that Lara Jean had ever experienced, and what’s worse is that she never got the chance to tell Peter just how real she wanted them to be before everything fell apart.
Lara Jean can’t stand the idea of saying goodbye to Peter forever, so she decides to write one last love letter, but this time it’s a letter of admission rather than resignation. Everything seems to be finally falling into place when Lara Jean and Peter reconcile, but when she starts to get harassed at school, Lara Jean wonders if something real is really worth all of the pain it can cause. To complicate matters even more, Lara Jean discovers that Peter has unresolved feelings toward his ex, and John Ambrose McClaren, her old crush, comes to town. Trying to understand herself and figure out where she stands with Peter, Lara Jean begins to understand just how wonderful and difficult something real can be.
Disappointing is the word that comes to mind when I think about “P.S. I Still Love You.” If any of you have read my “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” review, then you know that I LOVED the first book and was really looking forward to seeing how Lara Jean’s and Peter’s story was going to end. Me and my sister were ecstatic when “P.S. I Love You” came in the mail, but alas, it did not live up to its predecessor!
When I picked up “P.S. I Still Love You,” I had the first book fresh in my mind because I had just reread it in preparation for this book’s release. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han had warmed my heart, made me laugh and cry, and it was a lovely story about a young girl figuring out who she was so that she could come into her own. I had expected for those lovely themes to be transferred over into “P.S. I Still Love You” so that readers could see Lara Jean bloom into an even more lovely person and find her happy ending with the one who she loved. Instead, what I got was a shockingly odd shift in tone and theme from the first book.
Why I loved “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” was because of how sweetly endearing it was. It was the perfect fluff story that just captured my heart and made me laugh and cry alongside the characters within it. Despite all of the delightful fluffiness of it, though, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” also dealt with some pretty big topics that occur during most teens’ high school years. High schools are a jungle and sweet little Lara Jean didn’t come out unscathed in her’s, yet Jenny Han somehow managed to keep the tone of her book fairly light while introducing heavier topics that most teenagers deal with, and I loved that! All of that being said, why “P.S. I Still Love You” was such a disappointment for me was because there was neither the sweetness nor the endearment of the first book in it, plus it had every social issue a high schooler could possibly encounter in a 336 paged book.
Another thing that was really disappointing to me was that I didn’t laugh while reading this book, and there was only one scene that actually made me smile and it didn’t even involve Peter! “P.S. I Still Love You” was such a departure from “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” that it felt it belonged to an entirely different series, and that was really frustrating because I had loved the tone and the approach of the first book so much. I had to trudge through the first half of this book, and by the time I got to the halfway point, I was disillusion enough that I did not care what was going to happen at the end. One the hugest reasons for my lack of warm feelings towards “P.S. I Still Love You” was that Jenny Han really wrecked the character Peter Kavinsky.
I had fallen in love with Peter Kavinsky in “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” I loved that he and Lara Jean had so much fun together and were friends before their relationship blossomed into something more. I loved laughing when Peter took Lara Jean to the antique sale, and how kindly he treated Kitty. Peter had his faults in “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” but he made up for them with his sweet heart. In “P.S. I Still Love You,” however, the Peter I knew and loved disappeared almost entirely. Sweet, kind, cheeky, and dependable Peter vanished, replaced by a boy with anger issues, communication problems, and was unable to put his current girlfriend’s feelings before his ex’s. Peter was so heartbreakingly different in “P.S. I Still Love You” that he wasn’t Peter anymore, and I felt completely detached from him while reading this book. It took Jenny Han until the very last chapter to have him show a little of the old Peter, but by then I was already so angry with this book that I couldn’t enjoy the ending!
Another issue I had with “P.S. I Still Love You” was Lara Jean. There was something that Jenny Han did with Lara Jean as a character that I wasn’t a fan of. There was a ton going on in Lara Jeans life, and I was so sad with how she was being bullied and harassed by other kids, but sometimes her tumultuous inner dialogue (although warranted) was just TOO much on top of all of the other issues that Jenny Han created in this book. I think that I would have been okay with Lara Jean’s less sweet and more drama filled perspective if there hadn’t been so much going on with those around her, her relationship with Peter, her residual feelings for John Ambrose, and at school. Yeah, like I said, there were a LOT of issues.
The only character that I actually liked in this book was John Ambrose McClaren, which I find kind of hilarious because I should have hated him considering the fact that he was a “threat” to Peter’s and Lara Jean’s delicate relationship. Unlike Peter and Lara Jean in “P.S. I Still Love You,” John was charming and sweet, and, dare I say, endearing, and I enjoyed the scenes he was in a lot. His presence brought back a few warm and fuzzy memories of “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” because of his charming and endearing personality; there was a very cute moment between him and Lara Jean that made me smile, and I wish that the rest of “P.S. I Still Love You” had been more like that scene. John and Lara Jean were sweet, and it made me sad that I almost wanted her to end up with John instead of Peter; it was as if John took on the role of Peter in this book as the adorable charmer, and I thought that was sad because I still wanted to love Peter, but I felt so detached from him that I latched onto John. Although I was very disappointed in most of the characters in this story, John Ambrose McClaren kept me going, and I was grateful for at least one lovable character to read about.
Overall, “P.S. I Still Loved You” was a fairly well-written book, but it didn’t touch my heart like “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” had. There were too many social issues and dynamics going on in this story, from feminism and cyber bullying to broken family dynamics and bad boyfriends, that it was overwhelming. All of the things Jenny Han wrote about are issues that teens deal with today, but there were just too many problems and social issues in this book that it got bogged down. “P.S. I Still Love You” didn’t have the charm of the first book, and I missed the moments when I laughed uncontrollably because of a really comical scene and giggled because it was just that cute of a story. But most of all, I hate that the Peter I knew and loved from “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” was absent in this book. Normally a sequel like this one would ruin my love of the first book, but this time I’ve decided to ignore the existence of this book and remain in love with the story and characters of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” Jenny Han is a good writer, I just wish that she would have kept a little more of the first book’s tone and endearing qualities, instead of going full speed ahead on the more heavy social issues.
P.S. I still miss you, Peter.