58 pages 1 hour read

Jenny Han

Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2017

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Symbols & Motifs


Throughout this book, Lara Jean is trying to perfect the chocolate chip cookie, revealing both Lara Jean’s perfectionism and signaling to the reader that she has inner turmoil. In Chapter 4, Lara Jean’s father points out that whenever she’s stressed, she bakes: “Daddy says, ‘You’ve been doing a lot of baking lately. You must be pretty stressed waiting on those college acceptance letters.’” Lara Jean protests, and her father acquiesces that baking has been seen as therapeutic, a form of behavioral activation. From this point, the author uses this as a way of acknowledging Lara Jean’s moods throughout the narrative without directly pointing to them.

In New York City, when Lara Jean is experiencing some life-changing events—including big realizations about love—she tries cookies from two of the top bakers in her radar: Levain and Jacques Torres. After Chapter 6, the cookie remains unused as a symbol until Chapter 22, at prom, when Peter refers to Lara Jean’s baking: “…fondly he says, ‘You always want to take things to the next level. Next-level chocolate chip cookies.’ ‘I gave up on those.’ ‘Next-level Halloween costumes.’” She is finally able to perfect her cookies after staying up late one night with Kitty and making grilled cheese.