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169: Book-to-Screen Adaptation of Jenny Han's ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

In this Unabridged Book-to-Screen Adaptation episode, we discuss To All the Boys: Always and Forever, the Netflix adaptation of Jenny Han's Always and Forever, Lara Jean. We are all huge fans of the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series, and you can catch our discussion of the first film here.

Bookish Check-in

Ashley - Elizabeth Acevedo’s Clap When You Land ( | Amazon)

Jen - Angeline Boulley’s Firekeeper’s Daughter (thanks to partners @librofm and @netgalley!) ( | Amazon)

Sara - Holly Whitaker’s Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol ( | Amazon)

Shay (@booksaremagictoo) - Elise Bryant’s Happily Ever Afters ( | Amazon)

Mentioned in Episode

Lindy West

Rachel Held Evans

Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X ( | Amazon)

Elizabeth Acevedo’s With the Fire on High ( | Amazon)

Our episode discussing the first film - Episode 90

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Bookish Check-in

Book Cover of Quit Like a Woman:The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol

Sara said, "I am reading Holly Whitaker's Quit Like a Woman the Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol. I received this book from Random House when it first came out in hardcover. So I'm doing a combo of reading it, and then I also bought the audiobook. Holly Whitaker reads the audiobook, and you know how I like to listen to books read by the author, especially in nonfiction. What interested me about this book was the particular focus on women, and what she's discussing is her own battle with alcohol, and the treatment-based programs that basically were created in the 30s, like Alcoholics Anonymous that focused on men. Most of the first recovery programs that came out of those groups were mostly men. Women weren't even allowed to be in them at the very beginning. So, she just is discussing her opinion that there has not been a good treatment program in terms of alcohol for women. She created a treatment program. I'm about halfway through. She talks a lot about how alcohol is marketed to women, and all of the current cultural aspects of calling alcohol "Mom juice" and "Rosé All Day" and all of that, and about how the history of alcohol, how it compares to the cigarette epidemic. It is really interesting. I'm learning a lot. I think that some people may find Holly abrasive because she is a straight shooter. I'm finding that I'm really into reading women who are not afraid to say what they think and make an opinion, so even if I don't agree with everything that I read about, that these women are writing—like I talked about Lindy West and I talked about Rachel held Evans, and then Holly Whitaker—I think that I am at this point in my life where I just want to see these strong females who are not afraid to say an opinion that might feel controversial and to say, that this is what I think and this is why and that's fine. It's my truth. So I'm really enjoying it. I'm learning a lot from all the stuff I'm reading lately, and it's it's really good and I look forward to seeing how it ends and to learn more about the treatment programs she created that's female focused. So, that is Holly Whitaker's Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol.

Book Cover of Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Ashley stated, "So, I am excited to read Elizabeth Acevedo's Clap When You Land. I have been wanting to read this one since before it came out and had not made time for it and then realized I had access to the audio, and so that was a no brainer, and immediately was like, "Oh, this is perfect." I wanted to listen to it right then, and I'm so glad that I did. I have read both The Poet X and With the Fire on High, both of which I really enjoyed. I read both of them in book form, but I'd heard such great things about the audio of her books. In this one, it's narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo and also Melania-Luisa Marte. So, it has two voices for the two sisters in the story. In this one, it opens up with Camino, who is one of the narrators and she lives in the Dominican Republic. She lives with her tía, and she is really focused on school and has a lot of plans for her future. She lives also for her summers and really looks forward to the time when her dad comes from the States and visits her. So, that happens every year and early on, you get a sense of how she works hard to maintain a positive attitude about it. So, instead of being upset about all the ways that she misses out on life with her father, she instead focuses on celebrating the time they do get to have together and being glad to be together at that time. He does provide for her in a lot of other ways, and so she's thankful for that part. But there is this underlying tension that she is working hard to not look too deeply at so that she can celebrate the relationship they that they have, which is a great one, when he is able to come. So, it opens with her, and she's waiting for the flight, and it becomes apparent that there's been a plane crash, and that he very likely did not survive. So it opens with that scene and then transitions to Yahaira. She is in the States, and you're finding out about her life there. She's at school and knew that her father was getting on a plane to take the trip that morning, and then she's called into the office for them to share the news of what has occurred. So far, their lives are parallel and have not connected, but I can see that the connection between them is coming and that unbeknownst to both of them, the other one is out there, and that they have this connection of having lost the father that they did not know that they shared. I am absolutely loving it. The audio is fantastic. It moves quickly and is really compelling, and I love the way that we're getting two very different perspectives of two kids who've had a very different life experience but who now are going to have this tragic experience of grief as they work through the loss of their father. So again, that's Elizabeth Acevedo's Clap When You Land.

Book Cover of The Fire Keeper's Daughter  by Angeline Boulley

Jen said, "So, I am cheating just a little bit because I just finished this book and have not yet started another one. This is Angeline Boulley's Firekeeper's Daughter, which I read thanks to NetGalley and also have the audiobook on It actually came out just yesterday. So, I've been trying to think about how to explain this book because it is not terribly long but it covers so much. I'll just hit some of the high points and obviously no spoilers. So Daunis Fontaine is a native teen who is getting ready to go to college. She originally was planning on leaving her home and going away to college but her grandmother had a stroke, and her mother has a lot of difficulty with change and is having some trouble because she's caring for her mother while she's in the nursing home. But she's also very dedicated to getting there every day. Daunis just doesn't feel as if she can leave her mom. So, she decides to stay close to home. She's going to live at home and go to the local college with her best friend Lily. In the meantime, she was a hockey player at her high school. She actually played on the boys' team, along with her half brother Levi, and because of a very complicated story, she and her half-brother are very close to the same age. Their dad was a star hockey player who was headed to the NHL when he had a horrible accident that didn't allow him to play hockey anymore, and then he died when Levi and Daunis were quite young. So they are very close, despite the fact that they each live with their mothers. Levi is a big part of her life, and hockey is still a big part of her life, even though she is not playing anymore. So one day she's hanging out with Levi, and he introduces her to Jamie, who is a new hockey player on the team. He's there from out of town. He has a girlfriend, but Daunis finds him to be very, very attractive, and so there's there's all of these smoldering glances and all this flirting, but she is determined that they will just stay friends. That is definitely an underlying plot that sort of develops.

"So, one of the things I loved about this story is that while you have all the all of these things developing, there's also a lot of information about Daunis. She is half native, so her mother is white. But her dad was part of the Ojibwe tribe. And there's a lot of information about Native traditions and Native mythologies. Her aunt did this great job of making sure that she understood who she was as a Native girl and as a Native woman, and really taught her a lot of the heritage that was such an important part of her life and Daunis's father's life, and so that is a huge part of the book, and it's woven in so beautifully. I felt like I learned a lot, but it never felt like learning. It's just one of those things that I looked back, and I was thinking about all of these things that I hadn't known before. Another really important subplot is that her best friend, Lily's ex boyfriend, Travis is her ex boyfriend because he has become addicted to meth, and Lily wants him to go get help. He keeps refusing to go get help, and so she she felt like she had to break up with him. hoping that that would make him you know, take that step to get help for himself. Daunis and Lily start learning about meth sales on the reservation and in their hometown, so it's just there are all of these different storylines that are woven together. There's a mystery. There is a lot of drama, there's some romance. It's just an impeccably written novel. I just can't begin to pick apart the threads to make this sound more coherent because everything is just so seamlessly put together, but it is one of the more powerful books I've read recently. I could read it again right now. I just think it is beautiful and beautifully written and just an amazing story. I cannot wait to share this one with my students. I think readers are going to absolutely love it. It is YA, but she is going to college, so I do feel like it's best for older students. I don't know that I would give this to young teenagers. It deals with a lot of very mature things. But it is a great, great read. So that again is Angeline Boulley's Firekeeper's Daughter, and I mostly read the ebook, but I listened to a little bit of the audio and that was also great. So I think it would be wonderful in either format."

Ambassador Shay, had this to say: "Hello listeners. I'm Shay @booksaremagictoo, Unabridged Pod Ambassador from Dayton, Ohio. Today I'm sharing one of my recent reads, a debut title that will grab your attention with the adorable cover, but hook you with a cute storyline and relatable young adult characters. With Always and Forever, Lara Jean releasing recently on Netflix, I've been all about the contemporary romance young adult titles lately. I even have a segment on my personal page that I'm calling "To All the Books I've Ever Loved Before" based on books you would love if you have loved Jenny Han's series. While I have quite a list of ones I want to read in this genre today, I want to share with you one of my recent favorites Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant, for all of us who love books about books. Our main character in this story, Tessa, is a writer who writes about romance stories and happy endings. Her family has recently moved, and she gets accepted to a prestigious school for the creative arts, where she's beyond excited to be able to focus on her writing.

"Let me introduce you to the interesting and lovable side characters that are there for our girl Tessa in the story. There's Caroline, her best friend, who she bonds with over her stories, but their new distance apart is making it hard for them to connect in the same way as before. She makes some new friends at her school. Bonus points for some great representation in these characters, like Sam, her neighbor, the boy next door who's constantly there for her, but just isn't the love interest she's looking for. Lenore, who she quickly formed a friendship with. In her writing class, she meets Nico, who might just be the boy of her dreams written right after one of her own characters. Does he have too many flaws that she's overlooking to finish out the plan that Caroline and her come up with after she loses her ability to write. Add in a fantastic family dynamic as Tess's brother, Miles has a disability that is approached realistically and handled in a way that makes you appreciate the everyday.

"We need more of this in books, in my opinion, where the everyday stories are explored, and you can relate with every character. My one hang up in this story is that Tessa is hung up on someone else's man, and likely know, from To all the Boys I've Loved Before, this plotline can lead to some not so great situations for our characters. I mean, who wants to create an enemy when they're new at a school and trying to fit in? Tess's personal growth in the story is one of the most endearing parts of it. I just felt like this book had so much to learn from so many situations and issues to connect with that not only make you feel, but relate with the character and I would highly recommend picking this one up. It'll leave you not only with a wanting for all the yummy treats Sam creates, but celebrating personal growth and wanting more stories just like this one."

Main Discussion: To All the Boys: Always and Forever, the Netflix adaptation of Jenny Han's Always and Forever, Lara Jean.

After the Bookish Check-in Ashley, Jen, and Sara discussed the Netflix's adaptation, To All the Boys: Always and Forever. Here are some sneak peeks:

Book Cover of Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Ashley said, "The things that I loved were the way that Han explores the college process for teens and what that is like now, and how that can be really hard to navigate with friends and relationships and with your family. We had already seen Lara Jean go through that when Margo went to school, and having her deal with the fact that Margo went so far away, so she really was already having to work through that for herself, and knew that that was going to impact Kitty and her dad. So I think she has a lot weighing on her mind. It's not just her relationship with her boyfriend, but also like what it's going to mean for her family when she makes a choice about college. I thought that Han really explored all that really well. The other thing I really loved in the book was the exploration of her dad marrying Trina and watching each of the siblings deal with that. So you know, they each have varying reactions. I really loved that. I remember that standing out to me that, you know, Kitty was like in the matchmaking business in the beginning and really wanted them together. Then Lara Jean was very accepting of it, and Margo had a different response. I think all of those responses are appropriate. But all along one of the things I just loved about Han's books is the way that she explored their Korean heritage--the way to uphold that even with the loss of her mom, the way to move forward as a family after a loss. I just thought all of that was so richly done in the book and those were some things I enjoyed."

Sara said, "I really liked the fact that it was set in Virginia, because that's where we are, and I feel like we don't get a lot of—I don't read a lot that is set in Virginia, and when I do read a book set in Virginia, I am like, "Oh, I know this place," or "I've been there." I really liked that in a book. So that was one of the things I thought was really charming. For me, throughout the whole trilogy, I knew some of the places she referenced. I had been to the University of Virginia. I didn't go there, but my sister actually did go there, so I've spent time there. I just know the pride they take in that campus there. So, I just was—I was interested in that. I will say that the third book was not my favorite of the three. I actually really liked the first book the best, which is unusual for me, I usually like the the third: I usually don't like the second, and then I like the third in a trilogy. But I actually liked the first book the best in this trilogy. For the third book, I really did like the way that the relationship between Trina and their dad developed. I just thought it was so sweet, and I thought she did a really good job of just showing how that relationship developed and how they just loved each other and understood each other. I thought that that was really a beautiful part of the book, too."

Jen stated, "I liked Peter and I was glad she chose Peter. I thought it was nice to see the way they work through a relationship. I think so often in romances in general, relationships end with the kind of getting together or they would end with that part of book one when they're a couple, and so I always appreciate books and trilogies and series that look at, okay, here's how you have to work at having a good relationship and you keep choosing each other, especially when they're so young. It's not like, okay, well you chose each other and now you're done and you're just together forever. So, I really appreciated that in the books, and I think the movie, I think that's something that translated really well to the movie. I agree about the dad. Oh my gosh, he was one of my favorite characters in the book, and I think Sorry, I know I keep mentioning the movie, but I love John Corbett's portrayal of her dad in the movie. I think he just hits the perfect balance between being really cool, but also just being a really good dad who's conservative about some things and is protective of his daughters and is trying to do the right thing."

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