By the end of Netflix’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” it appeared that Lara Jean Song Covey (Lana Condor) had figured out all her boy problems. What began as a nightmare when her secret love letters somehow fell into the hands of her five crushes, resulted in a genuine relationship with one of them, Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo).
Of course, according to rom-com tradition, she first had to make her feelings known to him before they officially became a couple. The mutual declaration played out in true cinematic fashion in the football field where Peter had just finished lacrosse practice.
“I picked the football field and I will happily admit that ‘The Breakfast Club is one of my favorite movies and I loved the end of that movie and you feel so empowered,” director Susan Johnson, a confessed John Hughes fan, told IndieWire. “I wanted them to finish there where they had started and made that pact. It was just enough for me. I didn’t need to see past that. I wanted to just see that moment where that decision was made and they walk off into the sunset. Behind the camera, I was like, ‘Come on, Judd Nelson. We’re doing this for you.’”
…Except it wasn’t. In a mid-credits sequence, a new face showed up at the Coveys’ door bearing one of those love letters. John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Burtchett) has grown up since the days that Lara Jean first liked him while they were in the Model UN. That he’s brought flowers and a smile appears to mean that he has romance in mind. His presence is the best indicator that Netflix intends to make a sequel to “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.”
[Editor’s Note: The following contains minor spoilers from “P.S. I Still Love You,” Jenny Han’s second novel in the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” trilogy.]
The author herself voiced hopes for her sequel novel, “P.S. I Love You,” to be adapted in order to tell John Ambrose McClaren’s story.
“There’s so many things in the second book that I would love to see in a sequel,” she said. “The whole reason why I wrote a second book was for the character of John Ambrose McClaren, who is a fan favorite, and he’s a favorite of mine too. I would love to see that explored, and also there’s a character called Stormy that I love to write. I would love to see that.”
In the novels, Stormy is a character referenced in the first book but isn’t featured until the second. She’s a nursing home resident who has led a rich and exciting life, and teaches Lara Jean a thing or two about seizing the day, especially when it comes to romance.
Condor already knows what might be in store for Lara Jean because she couldn’t wait to find out after shooting “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.”
“I did read the second book because I was desperate to know what was going on, and it wrecked my world. It wrecked my world,” she reiterated. “I was so pissed. I texted Jenny. I was like, ‘How could you do this to me?’”
Most of the cast is interested in shooting a sequel. Centineo said, “I’d like it to stay true to the books.” Janel Parrish, who portrayed Lara Jean’s older sister Margot, echoed that opinion but not having read any of the novels isn’t sure what’s in the cards. She does hope that Margot and Josh (Israel Broussard) rekindle their relationship after she broke up with him right before going to college abroad.
“Speaking as somebody who hasn’t read the second book, I’m hopeful that they actually get back together,” she said. “I think she was trying so hard to be grown up and do what grown ups do and what grown-ups have to do. What her mom said is that she has to go to college and she has to be single and experience life. But I like to think and hope that she’s not over Josh, and that maybe there’s a chance.”
Until Netflix announces a sequel though, fans can read (or reread) Han’s novels. While “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” stays fairly true to the source material, some information had to be condensed, cut, or altered in the process of adapting it for the screen. Check out some of the most significant ways the book differed from the movie:
Lara Jean already reunited with John Ambrose McClaren
Perhaps “reunited” is too strong of a word, but in the first book Lara Jean hears about a Model UN event and gambles that her old crush might be there. Pretending to a be a page, she begins delivering notes between the different nations, and comes upon John, who is representing China. They don’t speak much except for a stunned, “Hi,” and then John calling Lara Jean’s name as she quickly runs away after having her curiosity satisfied that he remembers her. Later, she lies to Peter and claims she never saw John.
Sex and drinking was more prevalent
In the novel, there’s plenty of frank discussion of how much sex that Lara Jean’s friends have had, including Peter, Gen, and Chris. The sex tape debacle — in which video of Lara Jean and Peter’s hot tub makeup session is posted on Instagram — takes far longer to resolve, which means that Lara Jean’s reputation is tarnished for a while. All of this also takes place at the beginning of the second novel.
Finally, the books are far more realistic about how much the teenagers drink. Peter is not the responsible driver who only partakes of kombucha. Also, Lara Jean’s friend Chris likes to party and even smuggles tequila into the ski lodge in an empty shampoo bottle.
We know how Eve Song died
In the movie, Lara Jean’s deceased mother is referenced a few times but it’s never revealed exactly how she died. In the novel, Eve had slipped on a recently mopped floor, hit her head, and despite a lucid interval, eventually died of the injury. Her sudden death pushed Margot at age 12 into taking charge of the household and raising her two younger sisters in order to make it easier on their father.
More Korean cultural details are given
Not much is said about the Covey sisters’ Korean heritage in the movie other than the fact that their dad tries unsuccessfully to cook Korean cuisine, Lara Jean likes the Asian yogurt drinks, and she brings Korean face masks to the ski lodge.
In the novels, however, it’s more explicit. The Covey sisters’ Korean grandmother visits for Thanksgiving and is over enough that she knows Josh, who happens to love Korean food. Lucas cites Lara Jean’s biracial identity as one of the reasons why she might understand why he finds it invasive when people want to know if he’s gay or not. Also, Peter notices that the Coveys are a “shoes-off household,” which is a common Asian practice.
Kitty is younger and more manipulative
In the movie, Lara Jean’s younger sister Kitty (Anna Cathcart) is aged up to 11, whereas in the novel she’s only nine and obsessed with getting a dog. She also tends to be less altruistic in her motivations. In the movie, she supposedly mailed Lara Jean’s secret crush letters to get her sister a boyfriend, but in the novel, she does so out of spite and revenge for Lara Jean teasing her.
Different ”Sixteen Candles” references
In the movie, Lara Jean cites the opening scene of “Sixteen Candles” as the reason why Peter can put his hand in her back jeans pocket and later makes him watch the film, during which she confirms that the character of Long Duk Dong is a racist portrayal. In one of the later novels, Peter sets up an homage to “Sixteen Candles” for Lara Jean on prom night.
”To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is currently streaming on Netflix.