To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Published April 15th 2014
Simon & Schuster
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?
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.
I rated this book 3/5 stars on Goodreads.
This review, like all my review, is spoiler-free.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han is the story of Lara Jean, the middle sister of the Covey family. Lara Jean has written a letter to every boy she’s ever loved (five in total) and stores them in a hatbox, which was given to her by her late mother. One day, for reasons unknown, the letters are sent, sending Lara Jean into a tailspin. However, Lara Jean maximizes on this unlikely opportunity: she makes a pact with Peter Kavinsky, one of the boys who received a letter, to fake-date in order to Peter’s ex Genevieve and Lara Jean’s crush Josh madly jealous.
When I picked up the book, I wasn’t entirely sure what it was going to be about. Everything I’d read about it seemed cloudy: the blurb, the synopsis, the reviews. They didn’t seem to give any indication about the book’s subject matter other than Lara Jean and her tendency to write letters. Going into this book with no premonition was annoying and, at the same time, refreshing. I got to see this book for what it was.
With that said, I felt that the beginning was rather slow. Maybe my fresh perspective compounded this phenomenon in that I kept waiting for something major to happen before realizing that To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before wasn’t terribly structured in the first place. It took me a while to get interested because the plot seemed to wander without purpose, waiting to stumble upon something that would stick. Something stuck eventually, but it took about forty pages too long.
The rest of the book was fairly well-paced, but retained some of that aimless feeling. We ended up where we needed to be, but the way we got there was willy-nilly and the proverbial scaffolding, the reasons why we took this path, were flimsy at best. It didn’t seem logical that quirky-cute Lara Jean would throw herself into the arms of the school’s grade-A jerk only to make Josh, who had also dated Lara Jean’s older sister Margot, jealous.
However, I did enjoy reading about the characters. There was ample variation between the characters and they each had their defining idiosyncrasies, making them feel like real people instead of cardboard cutouts or paper dolls. I liked Lara Jean’s narrative voice in particular, especially when she described life with two sisters. I have a sister myself and I can personally attest that life with a sister is as random and weird and wonderful as it sounds.
The dialogue was somewhere in between stellar and awful; it covered the whole spectrum. Some conversations were charming and reflective of how high schoolers communicate, but others were forced and unrealistic. Some dialogue made me want to cringe while some dialogue was the highlight of its respective scene.
Overall, I enjoyed this book for its unique plot, dynamic characters and relatively accurate portrayal of life as a high school girl who accidentally confessed her love to a bunch of teenage boys. Despite its few shortcomings, I would recommend this book as an easy, heartwarming read to anyone who loves contemporary, romance, young adult, or any combination of the three.
Have you read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before? What did you think of it?
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