Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher/Date: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers/April 15, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Comedy, Contemporary
Pages: Hardcover, 355 pages
Start/finish date: July 21, 2017/July 22, 2017
Rating: 3.5 stars
Sources/Blurb (from Goodreads):
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.
To build off of the synopsis, basically, two of these letters go out to a boy named Josh and another named Peter. Josh is the sweet, literal boy next door who Lara used to have a massive crush on, and he ends up with her older sister, Margot. However, after two years of dating, they break up due to Margot going away to Scotland for her studies. Peter, Lara Jean’s first kiss, is seen as the opposite of Josh. He has this slutty bad boy image (which is totally wrong because he’s dated the same, annoying girl—Genevieve—for years and is actually so pure and cute oh my hEAVENS). At first, Peter confronts her about the letter she wrote, and she freaks out, searching for her hat box. She can’t find it, and soon after, Josh brings up the letter she wrote about him. Nervous and unsure what to do, she lies and tells him that she has a boyfriend. The guy she chose as a fake boyfriend? Peter. The story follows Peter and Lara’s fake relationship as they get closer, Lara’s relationship with her sisters Kitty and Margot, and the drama that ensues between her, Margot, Peter, and Josh.
Now, I’m not usually someone who picks up contemporary romance books, but this one caught me by surprise. I was in the middle of reading The Elite by Kiera Cass (*heavy sigh*), but I got bored, so I decided to drop it. I’ve been wanting to read this book since it came out, but I’ve never really bothered until this week. And, after just reading a book about a terrible sister bond (check out my review on Caraval if you want a rant about that), I’d been waiting for something a bit lighter, diverse, and real. That’s exactly what To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before gave to me.
Some important points to cover over this book:
- The plot
- The writing
- The characters
- Their development and relationships
With that said, here we go.
First of all, the plot was pretty interesting. It was enough to keep the story going, and I appreciate that. However, I’m not going to lie; it was a bit predictable. I had guessed what happened to the hat box since the page it was revealed missing. The book was a bit cliche at times, and there are definitely scenes that got that “these are high school teens, not little kids…?” reaction, but I didn’t necessarily expect anything more than that, so this only brought down about .5 stars.
I feel like Han’s writing is in that awkward middle-grade to YA stage. She has this simplistic style of writing that was extremely repetitive and redundant at times, and, while I love Peter, if I hear one more thing about his looks and how every girl falls for him, I’ma slice someone. I did like how Han didn’t go overboard with the figurative language. It was just enough to where it helped envision the story, but not to the point where it was annoying.
Han’s style and Lara Jean’s voice made me feel like I was in the sixth grade again. I felt like my best friend was telling me all of her boy drama (which happened a lot. If you’re reading this, Natalie, I love you, but you are literally Lara Jean.) The problem with this is the fact that Lara is supposed to be in high school, not starting middle school. While I could maybe see a few of my current friends saying some of the stuff she says, I do think that Lara is a bit immature, dramatic, and overly childish at times.
Lara Jean is practically the most relatable character I’ve ever read about. She’s tumblrish (is that a word?), nerdy, close with her family, boy crazy (leave me alone), and she’s kind of a wreck at times. I see myself as this weird combination of Lara Jean and her sisters Margot and Kitty. I relate to Lara and everything I mentioned up there. I relate to Margot’s stubbornness, her need to always be right, and her fear of being caught up with drama after graduating high school (because honestly, you never know what’s going to happen). And finally, I relate to Kitty because, like her, I’m the young and petty little sister. I see little me in Kitty with everything she said; her sassiness, her wit beyond her years, and everything about her resonated with me.
As for the boys, both Peter and Josh definitely did annoy me at times. At first, I was rooting for Josh, but he got annoying after a while. He was selfish when it came to the sisters, and I understand that he wanted to protect them, but it came off as creepy at certain points. As for Peter, he only got on my nerves a few times. I did get irritated about how ofter Lara Jean bragged about his awesomeness…and how much he bragged about his awesomeness. He’s that stereotypical highschool dude who comes off as a cocky bad boy, but he’s truly just a cinnamon roll at heart. He helps his family, is good with kids, and writes cute little notes for Lara that are actually goals.
As for the other characters, Chris is my absolute favorite, and I hate Gen with a burning passion. Almost everyone else is just kind of thrown in there, so I don’t have much to say about them.
Their development and relationships
Building off of the characters, I did love the relationships between many of them. I thought that Peter and Lara had a cuter fake relationship than 99% of relationships I know in real life. I loved the sisters’ relationships, and I appreciate that Margot and Lara were able to get over the block between them, which is what sisterhood is about (*glares at Caraval even harder*). I felt that all of the relationships were raw and real; I could definitely see some of them actually taking place.
As for the development, I feel like we see most of the main cast going through some changes. Peter manages to become a decent person (*gasp*), Josh manages to become 10x more annoying than everyone else, Lara Jean manages to get over all of the hurdles in her way, and some of the characters end up apologizing for things that they should be held accountable for.
In total, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was a cute and fun read. It had its ups and downs, and it was kind of slow in the beginning, but eventually, the pacing picks up and drags you into the world. It’s diverse, realistic (sometimes), and the comedy is amazing. I felt like the characters, while very stereotypical, weren’t terrible, and that their relationships were well built.
I’d probably recommend this book to anyone who loves a fun, easy rom-com read. The book covers bullying, slut shaming, family bonding/relationships, and so many more powerful topics that need to be discussed.
Anyway, thank you all for getting down to this point. If you’ve read this book, have a review over it, and/or would just like to discuss it, tell me your opinions down in the comments. Have an awesome Sunday, and I’ll see you guys on Wednesday!