Book: TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE
Author: Jenny Han
Rep: Korean American
Series: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before #1
Genre: YA Contemp
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
Honestly, I was kind of delighted when my goddaughter, Sidda, picked TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE by Jenny Han to be a part of my July TBR Beatdown. I’ve had this on my shelf for a while now and have even had it signed by Jenny Han… I just never got around to picking it up. This weekend I picked it up and couldn’t put it down.
Let me start this by saying that the letters don’t actually play that big of a part in the story which was kind of disappointing. They do get the ball rolling and push the story towards the Lara Jean/ Peter K. arc but I thought there would be more drama surrounding the letters. She’s actually only confronted with 3 of them and one of them was super anti-climatic as the boy is like “You’re sweet, I’m gay.” Peter, of course, gets his letter and so does another character. One letter comes back and the other? Well, who knows, really. My advice is to not go into this story thinking the letters are some HUGE part of the story because you’ll wind up disappointed.
Having said that, I did enjoy this book. I think the plot is cute and I am a huge fan of the ‘let’s pretend to date but whoops we caught feelings’ trope. This book definitely felt more character driven than plot driven. I loved the sisterhood between the Song girls and their friendships with Josh and Peter.
I’ve seen a lot of reviews that said they struggled to get into the book the first 100 or so pages but I didn’t have that problem. If you’re more character than plot oriented, this is definitely a book that will suck you in. Lara Jean is that quiet, cute girl in class that you really, really want to be friends with because you want to be her own personal cheering squad. This book takes place after Margot, Lara Jean’s older sister, has left for college and Lara Jean has been tasked with filling her shoes as a stand-in mom for younger sister, Kitty. It was great to read both Lara Jean and Kitty adjust to new roles inside their family dynamic and I loved when Margot came back for Christmas and there was more readjusting. It just felt so real and it was great to see a YA book that showed a changing, but still strong, family dynamic.
As for the romance… Peter Kavinsky, you might be low on the asshole scale but my dude, you’re still kind of an asshole. I think a lot of my problem comes from the things that Peter did while he and Lara Jean were fake dating and… ok, so, that’s not 100% fair but it was uncomfortable to see him disrespect Lara Jean by still seeing Gen occasionally when everyone thought he and Lara Jean were together. I’m also genuinely curious how he denied the rumor that was spread about Lara Jean. I do think he’s a precious Slytherin Scorpio but… yeah, still kind of an asshole.
Lara Jean, Lara Jean, Lara Jean. When people say they want a more “realistic” YA main character, I’m going to point them to Lara Jean. She’s smart, funny, but she’s also very naïve and wears her heart on her sleeve. I loved that she wasn’t a push-over and wasn’t easily persuaded into doing things she didn’t want to do. She also stood her ground when it came to Peter and I cheered when she asked him if he defended her against the rumor or if it was more of a “defense” with a wink wink nudge nudge.
I am excited to see what the next book in the series brings!
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts/opinions of it?