Story by Elizabeth Schoof, Editor-in-Chief
Photo courtesy NPR
I love young adult romance novels. Some may say that the genre is overrated or that it lacks substance, but I love it nonetheless. Whether it’s Sarah Dessen’s latest hit or one of Huntley Fitzpatrick’s stories with a twist at the end, these books provide a brief escape from reality. Of all my favorite authors, however, Jenny Han takes the cake.
Her “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” trilogy was one that captured my heart as soon as I started reading the first book. I don’t know if it was Lara Jean’s fear of driving or her love for stress baking, but I found a connection with her character that I hadn’t found with many others over the years. When I found out they were going to make the first book into a Netflix film, I marked the date on my calendar and got my friends together for a viewing party as soon as possible. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched it since then.
I’m not alone in my love for this series. The first film of the trilogy has been viewed by over 80 million Netflix subscribers. It has done so well that Netflix has made the decision to start using it as a recruitment mechanism. Through March 9, even if viewers don’t pay for a Netflix subscription, they’ll be able to watch “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” What better way to get people to sign up for the streaming service than to show them Noah Centineo and Lana Condor’s on-screen chemistry?
After the first film seemed to take the internet by storm, Netflix decided to create a second and a third. Though the third has not been given a release date yet, I am happy to report that the second film, “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You,” was released to Netflix on Feb. 12 and is almost as satisfying as the first film was.
The second film picks up right where the first one left off. Lara Jean and her beloved Peter Kavinsky are figuring out their relationship and what it means to be a “good” significant other. Just as she did in the first film, Lara Jean begins to overthink everything about their relationship. Is she doing what’s necessary to be a good girlfriend? Does Peter really like her? What about his ex-girlfriend? It isn’t long until their relationship begins to hit bumps in the road.
One of the most significant bumps comes in the form of John Ambrose McClaren (played by Jordan Fisher,) Lara Jean’s middle school crush. He comes back into her life when they begin volunteering at a nursing home. With one of Lara Jean’s love letters in his hand and a smile that could win any girl’s heart, John Ambrose’s entrance quickly leads Lara Jean to question if she and Peter should have gotten together.
To avoid spoiling the rest of the film, I’ll spare you the details of the storyline and focus on the other things that make this movie as intriguing as the first was. To start, I think that my love for the second film stems from the fact that I’ve read the books. I knew when I started watching which characters were going to end up together and which conflicts were going to come into play. My friends who hadn’t read the book before watching the film felt that there was a lot of tension and spent most of it worrying about whether Lara Jean and Peter would really end up together or if she would ditch him for John Ambrose. Though the second film isn’t nearly as happy as the first, I think that most viewers will be glad to stick it out until the end.
The primary complaint that I heard was that the storyline didn’t have the depth that the first film did. I can agree with this to some extent, but I think that it’s important to note that the film series is blending different aspects of storylines in ways that don’t necessarily follow the original. One of the major conflicts in the second novel, the hot tub fiasco with Peter, Gen, and Lara Jean, appeared in the first film. While it made for great drama in the first film, it definitely left a bit of a hole in the storyline presented in the second film. I’m hoping that the third film will begin to fill in some of the gaps that were present within the second.
Though the storyline is definitely a bit darker and there isn’t quite as much depth, I can honestly say that the charm that drew so many to the first film is still present within the second. Lara Jean still loves to bake and watch classic films. Her father’s desire to keep her mother’s legacy alive for his daughters is just as obvious as it was in the first movie. They even managed to maintain the same cozy feeling by bringing back a new set of Motown songs.
Regardless of the tension and the storyline changes, I think that “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” is still worth a watch—if for no other reason than because it’s got a truly amazing book series to back it up.
Elizabeth Schoof is a Senior at Aquinas College majoring in English with a Writing Emphasis and Communication. She loves writing, movies, and laughing at her own jokes.