24 Hour Library

A Library Blog by Abby Hargreaves

Month: April 2017

Abby Reads: Maud by Melanie Fishbane

Maud by Melanie Fishbane
Penguin Teen, 2017, 400 pages
YA Biographical Fiction

I received this eBook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Maud will be available for purchase April 25, 2017 (today!).

Before L. M. Montgomery was the best-selling author of Anne of Green Gables and other works, she was a young woman living on Prince Edward Island. Drawing from Montgomery’s journals, letters, and other artifacts, Melanie Fishbane brings Montgomery to life in her biographically-inspired work of fiction, Maud. Beginning in her early teen years on Prince Edward Island, Maud takes its title character on a journey to the west and on a journey to adulthood. As she encounters family relations, friendships, and romantic entanglements, Maud learns about herself and what it will take to become who she wishes to be.

Although the story is in the third person, Fishbane employs a prose style similar to what was common in Montgomery’s time. The language is simple and carries an innocent air along with it, helping to build the slow, small-town scene which Maud inhabits. This sometimes causes the plot to crawl at a pace that seems slower than necessary, which is only emphasized by a plot structure that heavily relies on thickly-characterized individuals. Fishbane’s attention to the detail of each character makes each evolution fascinating to watch. Maud’s relationship with Will, her second love interest, is particularly fascinating as Will’s demeanor is more mature than most other teenage characters in the story and, while Maud regularly compares him to her first love, the circumstances of the relationship among other things makes whatever love triangle that might exist seem fresh and new.

Aside from the usual relationship woes many teenagers face, Maud is also in conflict with her future and those around her who wish to stifle any chance she has at the future she wants. Though Fishbane’s approach to this central conflict makes it seem more true to life, it’s not clear until the very end whether Maud’s desire to write or to teach is the true conflict. While she wants both and anyone at all familiar with Montgomery knows how her writing desires turn out, which is the primary want is ambiguous until the conflict is solved.

Another conflict, this one relational, is Maud’s experience with her step-mother. As if out of a fairy tale, Maud finds her step-mother to be over-demanding, cruel, and selfish. There are moments of light and kindness in the new Mrs. Montgomery’s personality, but this is one conflict that is never resolved and Fisbane refrains from speculating on the why, for the most part. Is Mrs. Montgomery jealous of the attention her husband affords his daughter? Is she simply prickly from pregnancy hormones? Is there some other issue stemming from the nearness in the two women’s ages that is causing a problem? The root of Mrs. Montgomery’s attitude toward Maud is never truly explained and, while certainly in reality Maud may never have discovered the reason, a fictional narrative of her life is the perfect place to at least make some leading guesses.

Maud is, overall, charming. Though the writing style is perhaps more appropriate for a younger audience than the audience who would find interest in the novel’s content, it’s a wonderful way to incorporate Maud’s personality and to articulate the lifestyle Maud and her contemporaries experienced. Fishbane’s research is evident throughout the book, creating a mostly-satisfying
presentation of Montgomery’s life and leaving readers with a hunger for more, whether of Maud herself or the results of her work.

❤❤❤💔 out of ❤❤❤❤❤

Abby Reads: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah Maas
Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2015, 448 pages
YA Fantasy

Feyre, a human in a world that is not our own, hates faeries. When she happens across one in wolf-form in the woods while hunting for her family, she kills it. Before long, a faerie comes to collect her as she’s violated the treaty with her murder. Her captor, Tamlin, is High Lord of the Spring Court and will keep her for an undetermined time. While Feyre learns about the way of the faeries just over the border, she also learns they are perhaps not so evil as she has been led to believe. Although she still must fulfill the treaty’s consequences, Feyre finds Tamlin to be forgiving as he restores her family’s wealth and protects her from the antagonistic forces of Amarantha and her consort, Rhys, who has taken an interest in Feyre himself.

I shouldn’t be writing this review. I know too much!

Without spoiling too much, I’ll say the following: the sequel to this novel, A Court of Mist and Fury, will completely change how you interpret A Court of Thorns and Roses. You may pick up inklings of how a certain character really isn’t as moral as they ought to be, but you won’t realize the extent of it until A Court of Mist and Fury. I had a lot of complaints about Maas’s Throne of Glass series, which didn’t feel well set-up (or, if it is, the payoff is too slow and not worth the work to get there), but this series blows that away easily.

The fun thing about Thorns and Roses is that it’s in many ways a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.” And it’s especially fun because Tamlin and Feyre take turns in each role. Fan theories have suggested that Feyre’s lack of love for other beings (read: faeries) makes her beastly and her journey from beast to beauty is illustrated through her journey from illiterate to literate. It’s interesting stuff and, whether or not Maas intended it, creates a layer of literary-fiction-level-writing (at least for a young adult fantasy) that isn’t present in Throne of Glass.

This type of writing is highlighted by the many, many problematic characters. No one character in this series is perfect (and the ones that supposedly are, are actually flawed because of their perfection). It makes character development absolutely fascinating, even when the plot gets a little flimsy or over-burdened with politics and details from time to time. The characters are not just interesting on their own, however, but each relationship (be it romantic, friendship, or foes), has an exciting element of chemistry I haven’t seen in a fantasy or any novel in a while. It’s electric and really sets apart this novel from others. Perhaps one of the most interesting relationships is that of the Archeron sisters. Feyre, along with Nesta and Elain, create a trio that are strongly different and with dissonant motivations and emotions which heightens the way Feyre interacts with others.

But, okay, the novel wasn’t perfect. Amarantha’s name grated on me. The prose and plot were slow in points, bogged down with irrelevant information that hardly served as a red herring. Feyre’s thing is painting which is just so trite (and, I’ll admit, it does have a sort-of purpose in A Court of Mist and Fury but I’m still not thrilled about it).

It’s nice to get drawn into a heavy fantasy novel once in a while, and this one did the trick. I’m genuinely looking forward to the third book due out in May to discover Feyre’s fate and the rest of the — well, no spoilers here.

❤❤❤💔 out of ❤❤❤❤❤

Fiction Re: Sibling Loss

*This post will be updated with books as I become aware of them, so keep checking back!

In July 2016, I lost my only sibling in a car crash. As no one is probably surprised, much of how I’ve handled this is by reading, both to better understand my situation and what I was and have been feeling and to escape. A few weeks after he died, I attended an event at the Arlington Public Library at which author Hannah Barnaby spoke about her new book, Some of the Parts, which features the story of a girl whose brother dies in a car crash and how she works through the grief she experiences. Barnaby spoke of her own sibling loss and I was grateful that she took the time to speak with me after, waited while I purchased a book, signed it, and spoke with me a while longer despite others waiting to meet her. A few weeks later she got in touch on Twitter to check in on me. We’re a strange little club, those of us who have lost a sibling.

I only just recently started reading Some of the Parts, not having felt ready until now. And even now, I keep another book — A Separate Peace, something old and familiar and in my favorite niche genre of books ever — by my bedside so I can choose not to read Barnaby’s novel if I’m not feeling up to it in the moment. But it occurred to me others might find comfort in reading stories that reflect their own. So I went to work putting together this list.

Most of these books were selected by doing simple keyword and subject header searches on the library catalogs for Arlington Public Library and Alexandria Public Library, both in Virginia. I de-selected any books that seemed to sensationalize the topic — things like mystery thrillers or procedural novels. There’s a time and a place for those, but they didn’t fit the concept of this list. Incidentally, there were few adult novels who took the subject “seriously.” Those that do appear on the list below are starred. Everything else you see below is typically categorized as young adult. Because the loss of a young child is, in my mind, very different from the loss of a teen or an adult sibling, I did not include juvenile reading materials (though they certainly exist).

Various kinds of relationships and deaths are represented in the list below. Some are about the loss of a brother, others of a sister (I haven’t yet seen any loss of non-binary siblings or otherwise-identifying siblings; please comment if you know of some!). Some are about the loss of an older sibling, others of a younger sibling. Some characters have other siblings, others are left as only children. Some are twins, some are not. There are far too many dimensions to note all of them, so I’ve linked to Goodreads pages for you to view summaries, most of which indicate a good amount of this information. The list is in no particular order. While I considered it, I did not do research on the authors of the books to determine whether or not they have lost a sibling (and I do think it can make a difference).

If you’ve lost a sibling and want to find commonness in literature or if you simply want to better understand what it’s like to lose a sibling, I hope this list will help you find what it is you’re looking for.

 

Image courtesy of Photo Pin

 

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Some of the Parts by Hannah Barnaby

Eleanor by Jason Gurley*

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy

The Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Untwine by Edwidge Danticat

The Way Back from Broken by Amber Keyser

Breakaway by Katarina M. Spears

The Good Sister by Jamie  Kain

Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night by Barbara J. Taylor*

After Iris by Natasha Farrant

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams

All Rivers Flow to the Sea by Alison McGhee*

Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Lost for Words by Alice Kuipers

Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe

The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee

Saving Zoë by Alyson Noël

Choices by Deborah Lynn Jacobs

The Other Shepards by Adele Griffin

For This Life Only by Stacey Kade

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

Pieces by Chris Lynch

Dr. Radway’s Sasparilla Resolvent by Beth Kephart

Personal Effects by E. M. Kokie

Gemini Summer by Iain Lawrence

The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

Displacement by Thalia Chaltas

Then I Met My Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso

The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

Dead Little Mean Girl by Eva Darrows (step-siblings)

The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood*

Coaltown Jesus by Ronald Koertge

No One You Know by Michelle Richmond

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Dear Zoe by Philip Beard*

Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund

The Second Sister by Marie Bostwick*

The New Normal by Ashley Little

A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell

Someone Else’s Summer by Rachel Bateman

 

Abby Reads: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2015, 208 pages
Poetry

Rupi Kaur’s collection of poems is truly a collection for women who don’t like poetry. And that is to say, the book is for everyone, but especially and even for women who don’t like poetry. The movement of poems throughout the book showcases a sort-of narrative that might be any woman’s narrative, making the unspoken spoken. Once you’ve read Milk and Honey, you know not only that you’ve joined a very special community, but that a community has been there all along, seemingly existing only in the mist and in-between. For this, alone, Kaur’s work should be lauded, but truly, there’s more (and don’t even get me started on that gorgeous cover — there’s a reason it’s all of Instagram).

Each poem in the collection features short lines with simple language, making the work as a whole accessible. Yet Kaur’s incredible skill with syntax and precise vocabulary lends the collection an impact I’ve rarely seen in one poem, let alone a full set. Some poems are also accompanied by a simple illustration. These are done by Kaur and complement the text of the book with a matching raw starkness.

With topics ranging from love to abuse to living in a patriarchal society to self-love, one of Kaur’s most powerful moves is that she shows that there is strength in pain. We often hear phrases like, “Real men cry,” which we take to mean that it takes strength to have and show emotion. That concept had never really become concrete for me until I read Milk and Honey, however. Kaur, or her narrator, unashamedly feels things and puts those feelings into words and poetry that reaches out and says, “I’ve been there, too. Let’s feel it together,” in a way.

This togetherness is stilted in one aspect, however. With Kaur’s nearly-clear narrative with a neat beginning, middle, and end, her story is somewhat less relatable that it might have been in a less structured design. The straight narrative reinforces the idea that this is of a particular character, who, regardless of their reality, is a single person. With the focus on the one, it is slightly more difficult to expand to the all.

Men who encounter Milk and Honey with an open mind will probably walk away from it with a much greater understanding of what, for many, many women, womanhood is. Kaur sums up the minute and ambiguous beautifully, accurately, succinctly, and exactly. What so many women for the duration of womanhood have been trying to say (and only a few have done successfully) is here in these few pages. Even if you “hate” or “don’t get” poetry, give Kaur’s work a try — you won’t regret it.

❤❤❤❤❤ out of ❤❤❤❤❤

Show Off: If You Liked Thirteen Reasons Why…

Thirteen Reasons Why is now not only a wildly popular tough-topics book for teens, but a Netflix series, too. There are so many similar novels out there, it wasn’t hard to pull together a list. I started with NoveList, but made use of subject headings including “suicide” and “grief,” too. While most of these novels don’t have the nifty cassette concept or an equivalent, many of them deal with topics many teens face daily. Whether they find comfort in these fictionalized versions of events in their real lives or enjoy the inherently high drama of these stories, teens will likely find at least one book to interest them in this set. Check out pictures of the display below along with a list of books I used.

 

Just after this I got straight to work on straightening the YA graphic novels.

 

The Good Sister Jamie Kain
Please Ignore Vera Dietz A. S. King
Wintergirls Laurie Halse Anderson
Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia Jenny Torres Sanchez
34 Pieces of You Carmen Rodriguez
The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
Ghostgirl Tanya Hurley
Love Letters to the Dead Ava Dellaira
Boy Proof Cecil Castellucci
The Spectacular Now Tim Tharp
Teach Me to Forget Erica Chapman
The Memory of light Francisco X Stork
The Last Time We Say Goodbye Cynthia Hand
When Reason Breaks Cindy L. Rodriguez
Falling into Place Amy Zhang
And We Stay Jenny Hubbard
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock Matthew Quick
Fall for Anything Courtney Summers
All the Rage Courtney Summers
By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead Julie Ann Peters
Suicide Notes Michael Thomas Ford
Stay with Me Garret Freyman-Weyr
The Beginning of After Jennifer Castle
After Kristin Harmel
The Beginner’s Guide to Living Lia Hills
A Map of the Known World Lisa Ann Sandell
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Ned Vizzini
Challenger Deep Neal Shusterman
Saving Francesca Melina Marchetta
Waiting for You Susane Colasanti
Before I Fall Lauren Oliver
If I Stay Gayle Forman
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac Gabrielle Zevin
The Body of Christopher Creed Carol Plum-Ucci
Willow Julie Hoban
Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone Kat Rosenfeld

Abby Reads: If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio
Flatiron Books, 2017, 368 pages
Literary Fiction

I received this eBook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. If We Were Villains will be available for purchase April 11, 2017.

Beginning in 2007, Oliver Marks is greeted on his last days of imprisonment by the detective who put him there in M. L. Rio’s debut novel, If We Were Villains. Soaked in Shakespeare, Villains tells two stories: Oliver’s release from prison and his following conversation with Detective Colborne and the conversation itself: a retelling of what, exactly, happened at the Dellecher Classical Conservatory in 1997. One of seven remaining fourth-years at the elite school in the theatre department, Oliver is, compared to his six friends, decidedly ordinary. There’s Richard, who can nearly be described as a high school jock stereotype (though, not, as he is somewhat more complex and is a twenty-two-year-old theatre student), always cast as some king or equivalent; Meredith, his on-and-off girlfriend who is consistently cast as the temptress; Alexander, the moody and intense — too intense for his own self as he self-medicates with various substances — naturally and often cast as a villain; Filippa, nearly as much a bystander as Oliver, somewhat androgynous and cast just the same; James, a source of comfort for Oliver who is regularly cast as some hero or other; and Oliver himself, James’s sidekick both on- and off-stage. With a group so tightly wound around each other to the point of near-exclusion of other students and a natural inclination toward drama and theatrics, it’s no surprise that their lives implode when one of the students dies, or is killed, or has an accident, or who-knows-what and there’s the question of whether it’s better to know or to not know.

Having followed Rio as DukeofBookingham on Tumblr for a few years, I know a little bit about how this story came to be and the author’s work on it. It’s been a strange experience, coming into this piece of literature that I feel relatively intimately connected to, compared to any other book I’ve ever read. It made me look at the book differently and, I think, more critically. Rio regularly provides writing advice to her followers, so I went in expecting the best and, really, (probably unfairly) specifically looked for flaws. There weren’t many.

Rio, a big fan of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, incorporated much of one of her favorite novels into Villains: the setting, the tormented students, the relationships that spur on problems, death, an obsession with a scholarly pursuit. What I preferred in Villains over History, however, was that the novel’s narrator wasn’t quite so periphery as in History. I love periphery narrators (perhaps one of the biggest reasons I really enjoy The Great Gatsby — while Nick is present in the lives of the people he speaks of, he doesn’t act a whole lot. In fact, his inaction probably leads to a good amount of the tragedy that occurs — but I digress). Rio, however, made an excellent choice in giving Oliver more agency as a character in this instance. She very well could have made him a simple bystander, but Oliver’s guilt in all of this is far more interesting for his action, both direct and indirect.

Oliver as a narrator is observant and detailed. Readers learn about the specific architectural history of Dellecher (which I felt at points was overkill, but did do some work to build the scene). As the seven students live in what is known as the Tower, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Gryffindor dormitories of Harry Potter fame. I don’t believe this was intentional, but it did cast a sort of magical shimmer on the events of the novel without any other sort of magical realism going on, beyond, perhaps, some delusions. But back to Oliver’s narration and Rio’s skill with description: rarely, if ever, did the language become cliché. With Shakespearean quotes strewn about the text (again, perhaps too much, though it certainly served to demonstrate the characters’ immersion), anything said outside of that context was fresh. The description of the dead character’s body, in particular, was so striking I skipped lines and came back, skipped lines, came back — unusual, for me.

Also a bit overwhelming was the sheer number of primary characters. One of the female characters (I won’t say who so as to avoid leading you to figuring out which student dies) I could have done without as her involvement throughout the novel seems relatively minimal. Despite this, nearly everyone was well-developed and their individual relationships with each other similarly so, which was especially impressive given how many there were. Colborne, as a character, leaned toward a detective stereotype, though as his role as character in the novel was small, I ignored him, mostly. Meanwhile, Shakespeare’s presence felt lacking. Although his words can be found on nearly every other page, there was something missing in his influence on the students, particularly as Oliver blames Shakespeare for “all of it.”

Rio incorporates a fair amount of twists toward the end. While each one was at least a little surprising, the overwhelm of them felt somewhat gimmicky and insincere. This, too, was how I felt about a major decision made around the death of the one character, which featured a thought process I just couldn’t buy into. The character was awful, to be sure, but that awful? I wasn’t convinced. Additionally, the remaining character’s decision seemed moot: the time it would have required to act was not equal to the time in which things wrapped up (and, apologies for the vagueness here, but I don’t want to spoil it!). It’s a grand idea, just perhaps not executed well and, certainly, not easy to execute.

Rio’s first novel is clearly well-plotted, well-constructed, and well-written, if a little insincere at parts. I always felt a bit aware that I was reading fiction, as if Rio held back somewhat — perhaps due to her background in theatre in some way or other, but I won’t speculate too much on why, because I don’t know that it matters. Villains is a good next-pick for fans of The Secret History or Paper Covers Rock. Ultimately, I hard a hard time putting it down. With great attention to detail, Rio has a good amount of success with Villains and I’m looking forward to whatever comes from her next.

I read this book as part of Book Riot’s 2017 Read Harder Challenge, fulfilling challenge #2, “Read a debut novel,” and I leave it behind with four-and-a-half hearts.

❤❤❤❤💔 out of ❤❤❤❤❤

Abby Reads: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

All the Rage by Courtney Summers
St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016, 336 pages
Young Adult Fiction

With many, many brave young women coming forward to share their stories of sexual assault, Courtney Summers’ All the Rage certainly finds extreme relevance in the lives of young adult readers. Romy, living in a small town where the wealthy get away with what they will and she struggles to get by after her trauma, is one such girl. But after bringing her story to people in authority, the town turns on her. Left with remnants of relationships and the gentle heart of a boy at work, Romy is shocked when an old friend goes missing. Already condemned for coming forward, Romy prepares to once again confront the actions of her assaulter with the hope of preventing more sexual violence.

Summers craftily moves Romy about in a timeline, back and forth with sleight of prose to place the reader in a confused and unsteady mindset. With flashbacks that may or may not be flashbacks and history repeating itself, the story does not always move in a linear fashion, but rather
keeps the reader grasping for one anchor or another to determine the order of events. As frustrating as this is — especially if you’re reading this over a long period of time or reading other books concurrently — it has a significant hand in setting the tone and mood for the book, which might
not otherwise pack quite the punch that it does. Readers are with Romy, not just in her story, but in her emotional journey from chaotic trauma to control.

While the book does have a little bit of a thriller angle to it, the treatment of sexual assault is overall sensitive, if gritty. Fairly graphic depictions may deter some readers, but the novel remains an important work for those of us wondering what we can do to better support survivors of sexual assault. Summers creates a rich and realistic world as she handles layers of intersection in the lives of Romy and those who know her. Poverty is clearly an issue in her hometown, as is racism, which we see with Romy’s black sort-of-boyfriend (and his awesome dentist sister, who is miles away from any stereotypes I could think of — yay!). The book deals with privilege from so many different angles, but it never feels bogged down with it. This can be a great opportunity to start conversations for readers who might not know where to start on such topics.

Characters are breathed into fully with symbolic quirks that pull them from the page and onto the couch next to you. Romy’s continuing theme of nail polish as a sort of armor helps outline her character in a way that, while perhaps a bit overdone, is absolutely clear. The same is true for her mother’s boyfriend and all other characters throughout the novel.

All the Rage isn’t perfect. Its excessively unclear at times and can be a bit heavy-handed with the symbolism, but as a piece on a topic that is difficult to discuss and even more difficult to experience, Summers’ novel doesn’t shy away from the ugly side of humans. Summers successfully makes the topic real for those who haven’t experienced it and spurs them to action while providing a tale of strength in the face of vulnerability and pain for those who have.

❤❤❤💔 out of ❤❤❤❤❤

Abby Reads: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, 2015, 352 pages
Young Adult Fiction

The sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, P.S. I Still Love You picks up not long after the ending events of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Now in a relationship with Peter, Lara Jean doesn’t have long to enjoy her new relationship before pictures of her kissing Peter in which she appears nude begin circulating around the school. Things only get more complicated when John, the recipient of one of Lara Jean’s letters from the first book, reappears in a letter to Lara Jean and then reappears in person. Meanwhile, boy-next-door/sister’s ex-boyfriend/crush Josh is distant and Peter is spending more time with his ex-girlfriend, Gen, than makes Lara Jean comfortable. And then there’s the matter of her single father.

Han achieves the same endearing level of authenticity in P.S. I Still Love You as she did in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Lara Jean is deeply flawed and complicated, as are all the characters in the novel, lending the otherwise-standard relationship drama a refreshing new sheen. Lara Jean loves her family despite and because of their quirks, leaving readers with a place in their heart for the charming relationship the Song sisters share. Like its predecessor, P.S. I Still Love You has a sweet, pastel atmosphere to it at times, matching the much-Instagrammed cover (seriously, how gorgeous are this series’ covers?). But it’s not all sugar and roses.

When the book opened with the very real issue of the invasion of privacy, I was hopeful that Han would take advantage of her massive audience to make a difference for young women who, in real life, often find intimate pictures of themselves making their way around the young women’s schools and communities. Due to the nature of the picture of Lara Jean and Peter, many students assume the picture is of the pair having sex. In the reality of the story, Lara Jean’s back was exposed, but the two were kissing — not having sex.

This is important to Lara Jean (and I’ll leave the slut shaming rhetoric for another post), and certainly this picture should not have been taken or shared without her consent to begin with (yes, even if it was just a portrait of her smiling, this would be true), but it’s especially discomforting that this picture being shared is understood, in general, to be of Lara Jean and Peter having sex. This means, for all intents and purposes, the photo being shared is essentially child pornography. Despite this really excellent setup to talk about a massively important issue, Han sidesteps the conflict and it disappears after only a few chapters and no real resolution. This narrative conflict is in fact dropped in favor for a much more cliché story of Peter dedicating seemingly too much attention to ex-girlfriend Gen (for, as it turns out, an equally cliché teen-movie reason), and the book is the worse for it.

Then there’s the issue of John. Though Lara Jean’s relationships with both Josh and Peter in the previous novel sparked with chemistry, Lara Jean’s new love-interest-ish lacks a connection that says anything stronger than friend. Lara Jean’s interesting flaws and complexities come out as she essentially uses John to get back at Peter (who, again, is paying too much attention to Gen for Lara Jean’s comfort). But beyond their friendship, Lara Jean and John have no chemistry, making the conflict of will-she-or-won’t-she feel moot. Han leaves readers with a hopeful cliffhanger in regards to Peter and Lara Jean’s relationship, but in Han’s realistic world, nothing is guaranteed.

This sounds like a grim review. However, if you enjoyed To All the Boys I’ve Loved before, P.S. I Love You is a fun read to follow up the original. Besides, you have to be ready for the upcoming Always and Forever, Lara Jean!

❤❤❤❤ out of ❤❤❤❤❤

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