A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
A few brief facts about the University of Virginia. Plot illustrates the importance of visiting college campuses for deciding where you'd like to go.
Being vulnerable and getting hurt is part of love. You can't protect people from hurt. Be glad for each other (family, friends, classmates, and the like) for as long as you have each other, because you can't know how long that will be. Iffy message about power balance in relationships when Lara Jean says she intoxicated by bending a boy to her will. When things don't turn out how you planned, keep exploring options because you may find something even better. Decisions that worked for other people aren't necessarily right for you.
Positive Role Models
All the characters are pretty fantastic, including newcomer Trina, who models a sensitive and supportive way to start blending a family. Lara Jean, her sisters, and Peter all are good kids and devoted family members.
Violence & Scariness
An 11-year-old jokes about missing someone so much she'll slit her wrists.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Occasional kissing and rare light making out with no descriptions. Eighteen-year-olds decide they're ready for sex, kiss in bed with underwear, get a condom, and kiss with the boy lying on top of the girl. (Spoiler alert: They don't go through with it.) Teens talk a lot about sex, but not in detail: the first time, how many times, asking a gay character if he's ever had sex with a dude, being a virgin or not, masturbation, and more. Talk about birth control and what dental dams are for. Older sister wants to sleep in same room with her boyfriend when she's back home from college. Mating ritual of bonobos as including "penis fencing." Lots of penis-shaped items and going to strip clubs are negatives for bachelor and bachelorette parties. A friend who's gay promises to take Lara Jean to a gay bar someday. An elderly woman tells a story about skinny-dipping when she was young.
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"F--k" and variations, "s--t," "d--k," "bulls--t," "ass," "bitch," "hell," "screw," "damn," "boobs," and "butt."
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Products & Purchases
Lots of movies, fast food, soft drinks, restaurant chains, popular music artists and songs, social media, smartphone apps, and a few Harry Potter references.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults occasionally have beer and wine. Teens drink at a few parties and more extensively during a week at the beach after graduating high school. Lara Jean keeps taking sips of different drinks at a bachelorette party, gets drunk, throws up that night, and has a bad hangover the next day. A friend says someday he'll take Lara Jean to a gay bar. Once, Peter gets too drunk to drive. Teens smoke pot at a party. A friend smokes, and once Lara Jean helps her by getting a pack of cigarettes out of her purse while she's driving. Peter speculates about having cigars at a bachelor party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Always and Forever, Lara Jean is the conclusion of a popular trilogy by Jenny Han that began with To All the Boys I've Loved Before. Reading the first two books first is recommended for a deeper appreciation of the characters, and neither the title nor the last line of the book will make much sense unless you do. There's a lot of talk about sex and virginity; for example, in a game of truth or dare a gay character's asked if he's ever had sex with a dude. The only sexual activity described are a few kisses and some light making out, even when two teens are in bed with only underwear on. Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "d--k." Adults and teens drink, Lara Jean gets drunk enough to throw up once, and teens smoke pot at a party once. One friend smokes cigarettes. Lara Jean comes from a tight-knit family of positive role models. Positive messages are about making decisions that are right for you, adapting when things don't go how you planned, and appreciating the time you have with family and friends.
Is It Any Good?
This is a sigh-worthy romance that teen fans are sure to enjoy. With Always and Forever, Lara Jean, author Jenny Han finishes off Lara Jean's story still playing to her strengths" believable, likable characters and a vivid, lively family life that's the real heart of a sweet teen romance.
The story's easy to follow if you haven't read the first two books, but you'll get a much deeper appreciation of, and feel a greater connection to, the characters if you know their histories. Otherwise, the title won't make much sense, and the ending will be better understood and more satisfying, too.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.