Jenny Han broke ground with the Song family, a close trio of half-Korean sisters who work hard to support each other after the death of their mother.
Now the family is back with “Always and Forever, Lara Jean,” which tells the story of the lovable middle sister as her senior year in high school comes to an end and she still holds a big flame for boyfriend, Peter. Decisions mount, however, as Lara Jean helps her father prepare to get remarried and she decides where to go to college.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently interviewed Han about her third “Lara Jean” book and the growth in young teen books.
Han will discuss and sign copies of her book at 7 p.m. May 4 at the Little Shop of Stories, 133 E. Court Square, Suite A, in Decatur. She will be in town during the RT Booklovers Convention, which will be held May 2 through May 7 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and brings together writers and fans of various genres including romance, fantasy and young adult writers and fans.
You introduced readers to Lara Jean in “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” How did you come up with the character?
I honestly can’t even remember. She was a character that came to very clearly — her voice, the way she looked, the way she dressed, her dreaminess.
This is the third in a series. Did you start out to write three Lara Jean books?
No, there were only supposed to be two. I had just come off of writing two trilogies (“The Summer I Turned Pretty” trilogy and the “Burn for Burn” trilogy), and I was eager to try something different. When my readers asked for a third book, I told them to think of the books as two halves of a heart. Little did I know I would come back for more.
What will readers notice about the Lara Jean in the first book versus the third?
I hope they’ll see the ways she’s grown, and the ways she’s still the same. In the first book, she was 16, and in the last book, she turns 18. It was lovely to see her grow up and take these next big steps into adulthood.
I heard you wrote this book in secret. Why? And were you hearing from a lot of readers to bring Lara Jean back?
I wrote it in secret because I wanted to be sure there was enough story left for a third book, and I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up in case there wasn’t. The first night I started writing the book, I stayed up till dawn, and that’s when I knew for sure I wanted to write one last book.
Is there a Lara Jean television show or film in the works?
It’s been optioned, and I hope to have some news to share later this summer.
We keep hearing that young people don’t read; it’s social media, television and video games. What’s your strategy to get teens to pick up a book or read your books online?
I just try to write stories that I think they’ll connect with — characters they’ll see themselves in. I also think teens read a lot more than people might think. Just today, I was on the subway and I saw several different teens reading books. And they were physical books, not e-readers! The adults I saw were all on their phones.
I know you like secrets, but please share with the class … what is your next project?
I honestly don’t know! I’ve been working on this book for over a year now, and I’ll be going on tour for much of May. When I come back home, I’m going to start thinking about the next thing, but for now I just want to enjoy this last dance with Lara Jean.