Lara Jean in still in love with Peter, even when he isn’t talking to her, and she’s determined to get him back. But when a video of them together in a hot tub starts spreading around the school, Lara Jean can hardly handle the bullying, rumours and embarrassment it brings.
Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship is strong, but will they be able to overcome obstacle after obstacle? Or will they fall apart?
I give this book 2.5 stars (out of five). In my opinion this book was even worse than the first installment of this series, because it had even more seemingly unnecessary drama and characters. I did find one of the main themes in this book very interesting but overall the main romantic aspect of it was uninspiring and honestly predictable and boring. I really didn’t like Lara Jean in this book because she seems to be acting less and less like her established character and doing a lot more things that don’t have a clear motivation. This part of the story just introduced more drama and sees the characters through some relationship issues that are ultimately resolved. This book is basically just one drama after the other and didn’t really do or change anything.
It starts around New Years, although he has done a lot to her and lots of things happened between them Lara Jean is still in love with Peter and she’s written him a love letter and wanted to confess. She goes to his house to go and talk to him but he doesn’t seem interested. Despite this they eventually get back together kind of, because they weren’t really in a relationship before so the line is kind of blurred.
But the next drama is when a video of Lara Jean and Peter making out in the hot tub on the ski trip goes viral around their school, but because of the angle and the water it looks like they’re having sex. Now there’s a lot of rumours being spread, insults, hate and assumptions being thrown around and even memes. This is Lara Jean’s worst nightmare and she can’t do anything to change or stop it. Her only power is that she knows that they didn’t have sex, she is a virgin and everyone who calls her a slut is unjustified.
The story that stims from this is the difference between how this affects Lara Jean and Peter and also how protective Peter gets when he realizes how much it is bothering Lara Jean. He ends up going up in front of lots of students and tries to fix the rumour that they had sex and get the video taken down.
Throughout the book Lara Jean also starts volunteering at an old folks home and organizes parties for them, as well as a scrapbooking club and other responsibilities. Kitty and the other sisters also start trying to set up their Dad with the woman who lives across the street.
Lara Jean later gets a reply letter from John Ambrose McClaren, one of the boys she liked in middle school. When all her love letters got sent out he also got one but he’d only just received it because he’d moved. After that Lara Jean and John start causally sending each other letters back and forth and they become friends again.
[Spoiler warning, skip to the My Comments section to avoid them.]
This is more solidified when because of the tree where the old friend group, Lara Jean, her best friend Chris, Geneieve (Peter’s ex), John, Peter and a few other guys. They had an old tree house where they used to hang out all the time, but it’s about to get torn down so they meet up again, dig up their time capsule and hang out one last time. This results in them agreeing to play one last round of a game they often played when they were kids, Assassins. Each person gets a name and they have to tag that person, while avoiding being tagged themselves. When you get tagged you give the person who tagged you the name you had and the game continues. Lara Jean takes this game very seriously and tries very hard to win because she wants to prove that she can, even if she never did when they were younger.
While they’re playing this game Lara Jean is getting more and more mad at Peter for spending so much time with Genevieve. But then when she gets Genevieve’s name in the game and eventually while following her finds out what Genevieve was going through. Genevieve’s dad was cheating on her mother with a much younger woman and she was having to deal with the fall out of that situation. Once Lara Jena understood that situation she couldn’t blame her for going to Peter for support, especially since he’s one of her constant close friends ever since middle school.
Lara Jean also has a short lived romance story with John but in the end in lots of drawn out drama and conflict Peter and Lara Jean stay together and John just gets rejected. So, despite all of the conflict, drama and the multiple times they were broken up Peter and Lara Jean ended up back together in the end (what a surprise!).
Personally, I found the most compelling part of this story to be the relationship and comparison between Lara Jean and Genieve. Because they both felt wronged by the other but also misunderstood each other a lot and there were buried similarities between them. One of the biggest problems in Peter and Lara Jean’s relationship is that Lara Jean can’t stop comparing herself to Genieve, sometimes she feels inadequate because she isn’t her. And Lara Jean seems to have the idea that because Peter is still spending time with her it means that she still isn’t good enough in Peter’s eyes. This is a valid and normal insecurity that lots of girls have, but it’s very extreme in this case and to the point where I wish it was focused on or addressed more.
And then there’s the entire conflict between them where Genieve was the one who filmed and spread the video of Peter and Lara Jean in the hot tub, she purposely hurt Lara Jean in the present. But Genieve saw Peter and Lara Jean kiss back in middle school when Genieve and Lara Jean were best friends and she liked Peter. She felt betrayed by Lara Jean, but on the flip side Lara Jean wasn’t expecting Peter to kiss her and again wasn’t the one who kissed him. I can understand her not telling Genieve because she probably would’ve been mad and that’s when Lara Jean started liking Peter.
I’m noticing a problematic recurring theme, in both books so far the main character has been blamed for a guy kissing her. When Margot blamed Lara Jean for Josh kissing her and when Genieve did the same with Peter. To me that is just completely insane, if someone unexpectedly kisses you how is that your fault? That can literally be a form of harassment and in both cases Lara Jean did not give her consent. I think this is a harmful message because it implies that if someone kisses you, even if you don’t want it, it’s your fault and you can be labeled a bad person or a slut for it.
A big change in this book is the addition of a family dog named Jamie, who is a very nice character as well as Kitty (Lara Jean’s little sister).
Overall I just have to say that the biggest flaw with this book and similar books in my opinion is that even though there’s so much drama and many things happen throughout the book, nothing really changes in the end. Peter and Lara Jean still end up together, Genieve and Lara Jean still aren’t friends and although details are different and more things have happened, the final outcome is very similar to the beginning of the book.
To me this just makes the entire book feel pointless and highlights that sometimes things happen just to fill in the space. I also want to point out that when Josh was no longer a good third point in the love triangle they relied so heavily on that trope that they needed to introduce another love interest to keep things going. If this was a stronger romance story there wouldn’t need to be multiple love interests for the main character in order to keep the readers engaged.
I personally wouldn’t recommend this series but I know there are some people (my age and others) who enjoyed them, so it’s more a matter of your preferences and what types of books you enjoy reading. Personally, I’m more a fan of romances that don’t have as much drama and focus more on the relationship between the two love interests and their character development.