Netflix’s P.S. I Love You Changes The End Of The Book Just A Bit

PHoto: Courtesy of netflix.
Since To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before first hit Netflix in 2018, it has become one of the most talked about releases on the streaming platform. Consider us well and truly hooked. And when Netflix announced not one but two To All The Boys sequels, creating a complete trilogy based on books by Jenny Han, we eagerly devoured any and all information we could find. In the process, we discovered that — like a lot of books adapted for film — the film sticks to most, but not all the plot points of the book. What makes a good book ending doesn’t always make the best cinematic ending. However, the true ending of To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is almost too good to mess with. Almost.
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P.S. I Still Love You begins with Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and her now official boyfriend Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) dating for real this time. No contracts or lists. In movie, they're coupled, but in the books, their relationship wasn't so resolved at the end of To All The Boys I Loved Before. Instead, the first book ended with Lara Jean writing a letter to Peter in hopes of reconciling with him. The To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before movie actually borrowed from both the first and second book in the series, bringing in a conflict that opens the P.S. I Still Love You book: Genevieve and the hot tub video.
In the first book, Peter and Lara Jean connect in the hot tub and Gen tells everyone they had sex. The breakup between Peter and Lara Jean still happens, but more because Peter doesn't deny the sex rumor. There's no video online yet. In the second book, we pick the storyline back up with someone (it's Gen) posting the video of the hot tub moment. Lara Jean and Peter have just gotten together, and Peter publicly derides the mysterious poster. Things start to get messy when John Ambrose McClaren — one of the boys who received Lara Jean's letters that Kitty sent out — writes back and he and Lara Jean become pen pals.
In the movie version, the story opens with Lara Jean struggling to come to terms with the attention her new boyfriend Peter gets from other girls, but hey, every relationship has its difficulties. Still, Lara Jean, despite largely working things out with Genevieve (Emilija Baranac), still feels insecure about Gen's past relationship with Peter. Every time Lara Jean and Peter have a first, Lara Jean can’t get it out of her head that it probably isn’t actually Peter’s first.
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Oh, and remember John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher), the boy she had a crush on in model U.N.? This is where he comes in in the movie version. Not only did John Ambrose get Lara Jean's letter, he also harbored a crush on Lara Jean before he moved away after elementary school. And rather than being LJ's pen pal, as he is in the book version, John Ambrose actually winds up volunteering at the same retirement home where Lara Jean is working.
Lara Jean and John Ambrose reconnect in person, discovering they have shared interests, shared activities, and — potentially — shared secret feelings. And when Lara Jean and John Ambrose are charged with helping prepare for the retirement home's annual garden party, they end up revisiting their many happy memories at a neighbor’s backyard treehouse and a time capsule that John Ambros, Lara Jean, Peter, and all their friends buried together. This is where Netflix's P.S. I Still Love You starts to sync back up with the book version. Sort of.
They decide to have a friend reunion to dig up the time capsule, which puts Lara Jean's boyfriend and the boy she’s always wondered about in the same tiny space. The tension rises even higher when you remember that Lara Jean told Peter that she was spending time with John Ambrose, but she hasn’t told John Ambrose anything about her and Peter dating. In the movie, Lara Jean intentionally doesn't invite Gen, knowing she was the one who posted the hot tub video. Gen finds out anyway and shows up (in the book, this is because Peter invited Gen specifically, but it's only sort of implied in the movie). In both versions of the story, Gen showing up increases Lara Jean's suspicions about Gen and Peter's continued friendship.
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In the book, the tension mounts between Peter and Lara Jean during the treehouse party, when the crew pulls the game Assassins from their time capsule. (Assassins is a game that is played at all hours, any time, until everyone is eliminated except for the winner, so it's ongoing throughout the rest of the book.)
In both versions, Peter and Lara Jean argue after the tree house party. Both arguments are largely sparked by John Ambrose and Gen, and the jealousy they've both inspired. Shortly after that, Lara Jean finds out that Peter knew the whole time that it was Genevieve that posted the video of them in the hot tub and more importantly, that Genevieve only knew Peter would be there because he was waiting for her... not for Lara Jean. The devastating discovery leads Lara Jean to suggest that maybe she and Peter shouldn’t be together. In the book, the game Assassins largely plays into the building tension and their breakup, especially when Peter makes an alliance in the game with Gen.
In both stories, Lara Jean then starts to lean into feelings for John Ambrose. On the page, that means partnering with him in Assassins to take out Gen. In the movie, that means kissing John Ambrose at the retirement home's star ball. The two iterations of Lara Jean do eventually realize that Peter is the one she can see a future with. On Netflix, after Lara Jean kisses John Ambrose at the star ball, she wishes she was kissing Peter. In the book, Lara Jean wins Assassins and then realizes that Peter was hanging out with Gen because her family was in turmoil, not for romantic reasons.
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Movie Lara Jean thinks things can’t possibly be repaired, but leaves the ball to find Peter and try. Peter is waiting for her outside, in a bout of perfect movie magic. He had come to try to work things out, too, and confesses that he loves her.
The book does this reunion a little differently. Lara Jean and Peter still end up together, only they decide to work on things at the tree house after their falling out — and just before the site of their discord is cut down forever.
There were lots of changes along the way, but in the end, the book and the film come to the same conclusion: Peter and Lara Jean are meant to be.
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