I enjoyed this book as I did the first two… the characters are still excellent and very believable. This book just felt super episodic to me. Lara Jean and Peter have been together for over a year when the story starts, and they’re preparing to go to college. Lara Jean wants to go to the in-state school that Peter already knows he’ll be attending on a Lacrosse scholarship, but she doesn’t get in. She plans to go to a different school that’s only a few hours away and transfer to his school the following year, but then she ends up getting in to another one that is much better and much farther away. This puts tension on their relationship–should they keep trying to date long-distance, or should she let him go (as Peter’s mom wants her to do), so that he can focus on Lacrosse?
I encapsulated the whole book right there more or less, but those elements of conflict are a VERY slow boil. For the most part, Lara Jean is baking, trying to perfect her chocolate chip cookie recipe, and trying to plan her dad’s wedding to the next door neighbor. There’s a definite bittersweet quality to much of the book, and it encapsulates that coming-of-age sadness of leaving the old behind in order to embrace the new. I’m glad there wasn’t a love triangle in this one (that would have gotten a little old), and I definitely love Lara Jean and Peter together. And (spoiler alert) I’m glad it ends happy. I’d have been REALLY annoyed if it didn’t. (Still, I kind of wonder whether Lara Jean and Peter will make it, long-term. It seems more likely they’ll break up after a year or two.)
One thing I loved about this entire trilogy was that, while the author clearly acknowledges that sex is a common element of teenage relationships, Lara Jean and Peter never actually do it, despite having dated for over a year. She never explicitly gives a reason for this, and I like the fact that it doesn’t seem like they need an excuse. It’s a big deal, and they just… haven’t yet. I wish more books targeted at teens made this seem like an ok choice.
My rating: *** 1/2