Review: P.S. I Still Love You

P.S. I Still Love You
by Jenny Han

★★★☆☆

This book was the highly anticipated sequel to Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and continues with Laura Jean’s relationship with her now “real” boyfriend Peter K.

As much as I enjoyed Peter and Laura Jean together, I was pretty frustrated that the author decided to make them “that couple”; the ones that have petty fights and don’t talk things out with each other or apologize. I could see the conflict brewing from ten miles away. There was an unnecessary love triangle/square in the book that was also super annoying because John was actually such a sweet guy! The conflict got “resolved” (if you can call it a resolution even) so quickly, and then bam, the book was over just like that. (where are my cheesy epilogues at??) And let me just say, there were moments where I liked Peter.. but most of the time I honestly thought he was a bit of a douchebag.

But, in a sense, their rocky relationship was also a likeable point from this book since they were portrayed realistically and they weren’t those super lovey –dovey couples in novels that have no arguments what so ever. Their problems and arguments were things that go on in the teenage world today (e.g. sex, the power of social media/online bullying, labels [being called a slut and being gay], popularity, etc.), and I was glad the author addressed these issues. I also loved how she incorporated Laura Jean’s Korean heritage and culture in the book, as you don’t typically see diversity in YA books.
Even though there were quite a few parts of this book where I felt frustrated, this was still a loveable book because it was realistic, and Laura Jean is a main character that you just can connect to, from her inquisitive attitude and worries to her love and care for her family and friends.

“Lara Jean, I think you half-fall in love with every person you meet. It’s part of your charm. You’re in love with love.
This may be true. Perhaps I am in love with love! That doesn’t seem like such a bad way to be.”

She’s a character that grows so much in this book and you just feel so proud of her when she overcomes obstacles and reacts to situations in a new, better light. There are some profound and heartwarming moments in this book where Laura Jean discovers more about herself and who she is, and learns about love.

“People come in and out of your life. For a time they are your world; they are everything. And then one day they’re not. There’s no telling how long you will have them near.”

Also can I just say I love the Song family; their honesty and love for each other was so genuine, and I just really felt their family situation since it is so similar to mine. Those little moments when Laura Jean misses her mom… yeah me too girl, me too. I love how there are moments when Laura Jean has real talks with her dad, as well with her older sister Margo, who’s living in another country. Also, Kitty is an adorable, badass little sister who can always get a laugh out of me.

Although I love reading in first person because I find that it helps me connect to the characters better, there were times where I found the writing a little childish – which is understandable since it is the voice of Laura Jean.

This book was full of emotions, from my cringing moments of second-hand embarrassment, the tears forming in my eyes from Laura Jean’s troubles, to the wide smiles from cute couple moments, this book still leaves me conflicted with my emotions… I’m happy with the novel overall but at the same time I’m not fully satisfied.

priscilla

Review: Inside the O’Briens

Inside the O’Briens
by Lisa Genova

★★★ ½

“But Huntington’s isn’t the absence of moving, thinking, and feeling. This disease is not a transcendental state of bliss. It’s a complete freak show – ugly, constant, unproductive movements, uncontrollable rage, unpredictable paranoia, obsessive thinking. “

After reading and absolutely loving Lisa Genova’s debut novel, Still Alice, I had high hopes for this book.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it as much as her first novel. Inside the O’Briens focuses on the effect of Huntington’s Disease on a family. HD is a genetic, neurological disease that will slowly kill you, and once you are gene-positive, there is no cure. If your parents have the gene that codes for HD, you have a 50/50 chance of inheriting this disease. This novel centers around the O’Briens family, where Joe O’Brien, a 44 year old police officer, husband and father of four is diagnosed with Huntington’s. Throughout the novel, we read about his daily struggles and the progression of the disease and how it affects not only his life but his family and those around him.

There are multiple points of view, which are mainly Joe and Katie, his 21-year old daughter. Katie is a yoga teacher and always feels like the shadow to her older sister Meghan, who performs with the Boston Ballet. We follow her constant internal struggle of choosing whether or not to take the test that will tell her if she has the Huntington’s gene.

“When I was a kid and we played truth or dare, I always picked dare”, says Katie.
Truth: Find out whether she is going to get Huntington’s disease or not.
Dare: live without knowing , wondering every other second whether she already has it.
She never liked that game. She still doesn’t want to play it.

Reading about the stages of denial, helplessness, anger and grief were really well written and I did feel empathetic towards the characters. With that being said, personally I felt this book lacked a stronger emotional pull towards the characters and at times it felt like reading a medical report on Huntington’s. (I am a pretty sensitive person,  and cry easily, but this book didn’t get me emotionally invested enough to the point where I shed even a couple tears…) Each of the characters could have had more complexity and I wish there was more interactions between them, as this novel focuses on family. I wanted to see Joe’s relationships with each of his individual kids, with dealing on how they were reacting to the news and how they are coping with the possibility of them being gene positive. I also wanted to see more interaction between the kids in the family, especially how each of them reacted when they found out the results from their tests.

In my opinion, I didn’t find the ending frustrating because ultimately Katie made a decision on getting the test, which she was struggling with in the first place. SPOILER – highlight to read(In this case, the actual results of the test don’t matter, and I believe that the author purposely omitted this for a reason, and it worked well with the ending as it ended with love and the acceptance of herself to live life to it’s fullest regardless of the results.)

Overall, this book did give me a broader understanding and more insight on Huntington’s disease, which is what the author aimed to do.  Although fictional, I believe it portrays realistically a family who is battling this cruel and merciless disease, but gives words of hope and encouragement for the future.

priscilla