58 pages • 1 hour read
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Jenny Han’s Always and Forever, Lara Jean is a young adult (YA) fiction novel published in 2017. It is the third volume in a trilogy surrounding the high school experience of an Asian-American girl named Lara Jean. The first two novels have been adapted into Netflix films; the third book is also slated to be developed into a film. This guide references the e-book version of the novel.
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This novel opens on a typical high school party for Lara Jean and her friends. Her lacrosse-playing boyfriend, Peter, scored the winning goal, and they are celebrating. Peter has a scholarship to attend the University of Virginia in the fall, and Lara Jean expects to attend with him. Her grades are good enough to get in, though she is nervous about what the future will bring if she cannot attend with him. The pair are seniors in high school, and the narrative begins in the spring, just before Easter, and carries through the summer to the weeks before their entrance into college.
After Easter, Senior Week begins at their school—a week in which the seniors participate in a variety of activities, including a weekend-long trip to New York. In New York, Peter and Lara Jean watch the sunrise together on the roof of their hotel. Lara Jean experiences a shift in her mindset toward Peter and their relationship in this moment, considering love from a more mature perspective. As an avid chocolate chip cookie baker, while in NY, she samples two cookie recipes that will heavily influence her baking.
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Back at school, Lara Jean learns she didn’t get into UVA; she and Peter devise a plan for her to transfer in from the College of William and Mary in her sophomore year. Lara Jean’s older sister Margot visits from university in Scotland, bringing her new boyfriend, Ravi. The two are only at the Covey home for a few days, but Margot manages to fight with her father and Trina, her father’s girlfriend. She is having a difficult time finding her place in the family again. She advises Lara Jean to take things slowly at William and Mary and focus on the joy of freshman year rather than just wishing and waiting to transfer and have a good time with Peter.
After announcing his plan to propose to Trina, Peter, Kitty, and Lara Jean agree to record it. Trina accepts, and the two begin planning their wedding. Lara Jean makes over-the-top plans for the celebration, for which her father and Trina have to talk her down. Trina agrees to a bachelorette party, which will be at a karaoke bar. Lara Jean shares responsibility for the event with Kristen, Trina’s best friend. Trina’s house sells earlier than expected, so she moves into the Covey home. While at a lacrosse game with Kitty, her younger sister, Lara Jean is confronted by Peter’s parents. His mother does not expect them to stay together in a long-distance relationship after high school. Peter’s father asks Lara Jean not to tell Peter that he’s there.
Lara Jean leads a memorial for Stormy, an elderly woman she befriended at Belleview. She reconnects with Stormy’s grandson—her former friend and love interest—John Ambrose McClaren. At prom, Lara Jean and her friends all have a good time. They go to the diner after, where Peter has recreated Lara Jean’s favorite scene from Sixteen Candles for her birthday. Lara Jean finds out she has gotten off the waitlist for the University of North Carolina, and she and her best friend, Chris, impulsively drive down to the campus that night; they have an incredible experience, prompting Lara Jean to change her mind about attending William and Mary. Her family is on board with her decision, but Peter’s reaction is distant. The couple attends a party that night, where Peter gets very drunk. He and Lara Jean go home separately.
Peter has difficulty expressing his emotions about his and Lara Jean’s impending separation, both in her yearbook and after Lara Jean gives him a scrapbook that commemorates their time together. Lara Jean’s family gifts her a trip to Korea for the month of July; she’s pleased, but part of her wants to stay and have that time with Peter.
The seniors’ celebratory Beach Week begins, with Peter and Lara Jean staying in gendered houses next to one another. Peter’s house becomes the party house. Lara Jean runs into John Ambrose at a party. Peter disrespects John, and Lara Jean tells him off. The couple’s arguments continue. Lara Jean tries to initiate sex with Peter, but he cuts her off short. They make amends soon after. Peter’s mother asks her to come over to consider breaking up with Peter to preserve his future as a lacrosse player. Trina has her karaoke bachelorette party, and Lara Jean drinks several cocktails. She meets up with Peter and breaks up with him.
Lara Jean spends time with Chris before Chris is due to leave for the Dominican Republic. Trina encourages Lara Jean not to give up on Peter if she still loves him. At her father’s wedding, Lara Jean feels sure Peter will still show up, and he does. They talk through their feelings and agree to be in a long-distance relationship. As the summer wraps up, they are confident about their future together.
By Jenny Han