Release Date: April 15th, 2014
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA Contemporary
*1st book of a series*
*1st book of a series*
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
It was so sweet! To be honest, I wasn’t really a big fan of Jenny Han. The Summer I Turned Pretty wasn’t that great, and even though it had its good moments, the obsession Belly had with the boys was weird and a bit creepy. However, this book was totally different. I’m usually a very picky person when it comes to books. (I’m picky because I care! :) ) I can’t deny that this one doesn’t have flaws, but overall, it was a sweet, feel-good book with honest emotions.
There were a couple directions the book could have taken, and I’m glad it chose this particular road. The title/synopsis was a bit misleading because this book wasn’t really about those letters; rather, those letters were an important catalyst to the story. The book explored mainly Lara Jean’s fake relationship with Pete, one of the guys who got her letter. She and Peter already have some history, which complicates things. Throw in Josh, who also got a letter, was her major crush, AND was her sister’s old boyfriend (who her sister hasn’t quite gotten over yet), and complication is an understatement. ;)
What I loved most about this book was that it was about relationships. Whether its family, friends , or boyfriends, the heart of this book was about relationships. My favorite relationship was Lara Jean with her sisters. It was sweet, and it reminded me so much of my own relationship with my brother. We fight, we argue, and we know how to hit each other in the worst ways. BUT that doesn’t change the fact that we’re siblings, family, and at the end of the day, we’re always there for each other and always have each other’s backs. That’s what family is, and I loved that strong bond between all of them. :)
My next favorite was Lara Jean’s relationship with Peter. It was so cute! They have such a sweet chemistry, and I really loved how Peter wrote all those notes for her. He may tease her relentlessly (he’s like a grade schooler who pulls the piggy-tails of the girl he has a crush on ;) ), but it was obvious he really liked her. What I loved about this relationship was how it was slowly built up. They went on dates (they were fake, but still!), they talked, and they just hung out with each other. Even though it didn’t start out that way in the beginning (in fact, because they weren’t a real couple, I felt this fact actually helped them grow closer together in a different, but deeper way), they began to enjoy each other’s company. I love nothing more than to see two bickering people coming together, sort of forced by the circumstances, and then falling in love with each other. ;)
Third on the list is Lara Jean’s relationship with Josh. I didn’t think this was the best relationship. It was sweet, but Josh didn’t really show up much in the book (save for the beginning). I mean he was there, but more of just lurking in the mind of Lara Jean. They didn’t really have a solid chemistry, not like Lara Jean and Peter, but more so an implied chemistry? Like, Peter and Lara Jean had some history behind them, but we still get to see them build up their relationship as the book goes on. However, with Josh, it was sort of like since they’ve known each other forever, they were supposed to be close. It was a little bit like insta-relationship, where we’re just supposed to go along with the fact that they’re close. There was also the beginning of a love triangle, which I had hoped would be squashed, but I fear this will be dragged into the second book (more on that later).
Last on the list is Lara Jean’s relationship with all the other boys who got her letters. Nothing in particular stood out to me here, except that one scene where she went to meet one of the boys. It was a nice what-if, and I liked the choice that Lara Jean made. Sometimes it’s enough to just know that someone remembered you, and that’s a memory you’ll hold in your heart forever.
If there was one thing I absolutely hated, then it’s the fact that there’s going to be a sequel (and possibly an entire series). NO. NO. NO. NO. PLEASE NO!! Honestly, this book was perfectly fine as a standalone, and I liked the open ended way the book ended. A sequel would just ruin it. In addition, there were the beginnings of a love triangle (that wasn't quite a love triangle); I have a terrible, terrible fear that this will be expanded on in the second book (with much angst and brooding), and we’ll take 100 steps backwards from how far we’ve come in this book.
Final thoughts? A sweet book about relationships and growing up. I also loved that the main character was half-Korean! It’s been a while since I’ve seen a book with a Korean main character ;)
Rating: 4 out of 5