Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #1
Length: 8.5 hours
Narrator: Laura Knight Keating
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Original Publication Date: 2014
Genre(s): Young adult, Romance, Contemporary
Lara Jean has never had a boyfriend, though she’s been in love plenty of times. Five, to be exact. And to each one of those boys, she’s written a letter professing her love. Those letters are signed, sealed, and hidden in a safe place in her bedroom. Until one day, those letters get mailed…and Lara Jean has to deal with the aftermath. Yikes.
To All the Boys is written in first-person from Lara Jean’s perspective. At first, the writing is really not-so-great. The story, though, was intriguing enough to keep me reading. I’m not sure if the writing improved, or if I just started to overlook it as I fell into the story, but I clearly made it all the way through, so that’s gotta count for something. The premise is definitely a great hook to a fun YA romance. I used to hate the I-hate-you-but-now-I-love-you trope in YA fiction, but I’m slowly starting to eat it up. Also, I definitely prefer a fake-dating storyline rather than a Catfish storyline, so thank you, Jenny Han.
Other than the fun premise, what makes this story great are the characters. Though I thought they sometimes acted/spoke a little too young rather than teenager-y, I grew to like Lara Jean and Peter. Neither of them are great people—they both do and say some pretty messed up things, but that’s very realistic for teenagers, so it fit the story. I ended up getting butterflies, and any book that can give me butterflies is a good book in my mind. I just love their love so much…
Other than the fake and real romance between Lara Jean and Peter, I really enjoyed Lara Jean’s family. They are such a close, loving, and fun family, and it made me smile more than once. Though I have 2 brothers and Lara Jean has a family of girls, I could still relate to the sibling dynamics. Lara Jean and her sisters are so close, which I find is rare with families, to be honest. My brother and I were super close as kids, so I liked that I could relate to that aspect so strongly.
The ending was definitely abrupt, but luckily I’m reading this series after its been written entirely, so I know there’s a sequel (and already have it on hold at the library). I’ll be interested to see where Han takes the story? Like, yeah, I get it, Lara Jean is probably going to end up with Peter. But what else is the story going to be about? These types of YA romances are usually a one-and-done kind of thing, so I’ll be interested to see how it plays out in a trilogy.
I had my issues with To All the Boys, but I’m a sucker for cutesy YA romances. I typically judge the writing and little details less when I’m so in love with the story and the characters’ romance. Sorry. *shrugs* If you’re in the mood for a breezy teenage love story, I recommend this book. And I’m super excited to watch the adaptation tomorrow night!
–“You’d rather make up a fantasy version of somebody in your head than be with a real person.”
–“I’m always wondering about the what-ifs, about the road not taking.”
–“It feels strange to have spent so much time wishing for something, for someone, and then one day, suddenly, to just stop.”