Josh disappears after the first movie in the To All The Boys series. We discuss where he goes and why his absence matters in the series.
Lara Jean’s (Lana Condor) unrequited crush on neighbor/her sister’s ex-boyfriend Josh (Israel Broussard) is one of the driving plot points in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. But after the first movie in the popular Netflix movie series, he disappears without a trace. The following movies don’t explain where he went or what became of him, despite being an important person in Lara Jean’s life. However, the books the series is based on uncover the secret to Josh’s whereabouts.
In the first movie, Josh was dating Lara Jean’s older sister Margot after being friends with Lara Jean for years. But upon Margot’s decision to go to college in Scotland, she decides to break up with Josh. Naturally, the ex-boyfriend begins to drift away from Lara Jean and her family after this. After Lara Jean and Peter begin dating at the end of the first film, she seems to have completely forgotten about her previous feelings for Josh once and for all.
The popular YA books by Jenny Han contain the explanation for Josh’s absence that the movies omit. The second book contains a passage in which Lara Jean laments on how easily her friend faded away. The movie adaptation of To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You follows this storyline, but doesn’t take the time to explain it. But the book explains that Josh, who is a year older than Lara Jean, got accepted into college and plans to move away after graduation. So before Lara Jean even realizes it, Josh completely faded away from her life.
Josh makes a reappearance in the final book in the series, Always and Forever, Lara Jean. But he was not mentioned in any subsequent installment in the movie series. While it would have been nice to see Lara Jean reunite with a major character before the movie franchise wrapped up, it makes sense that he was omitted. The passage describing Lara Jean and Josh’s fading relationship mentions how people simply come in and out of each other’s lives. It is a painful reality for a friend to be so present in one’s life for a period of time, only to eventually drift away. Lara Jean and Josh’s story takes place when college is heavily on their minds, and moving on to college is a natural time for relationships to change. Not to mention, Josh’s absence allows for the To All The Boys series to focus on Lara Jean’s subsequent love interests, which is the most important aspect of the YA love story.