To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
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Release Date: April 15th 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1
Goodreads description: 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.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before sounded cute and fun and love letters! I wanted to read it when I saw it on WoW posts and then I saw some early reviews and my interest grew! I have read Burn for Burn which is co-written by Han, but I still need to read Fire with Fire. I have been slightly interested in the Summer series but I’m not completely sure I want to jump in.
Laura Jean writes love letters to boys when she is over them and puts them away in a box. Somehow(!) the letters get sent and past crushes find out why she stopped liking them and/or things she likes about them. Including one to her next-door neighbor, friend, and sister’s ex, Josh. This causes some awkwardness.
I really, really liked this book. While I was reading it, I kind of kept having moments where I was like “Am I liking this?” and I couldn’t really say “omg yes” but I couldn’t put it down. I was reading it while rereading another book and I snuck it in before my Two Boys Kissing read for LGBT April and finished most of it in one day and hurried to finish the next day. It was kind of different than I expected, but it just left me wanting more.
One huge thing about the letters I don’t understand: why would she address them?? Who puts addresses on letters they don’t intend to send? Just write their name on the envelope. Just write their initial. There’s still a chance they might get passed on to the person but goodness, she made it so easy! To me, it was beyond obvious what happened to the letters and I felt like she was willfully blind to what happened. But that can happen, I suppose.
That aside, I really liked Laura Jean. I could relate to her in a lot of ways and in some ways not at all. She hates driving, isn’t overly involved. She’s the middle sister. She wants to be helpful and step up while her older sister is gone. She has epic crushes but doesn’t actually date much. Her mom died when she was young, but Laura Jean thinks about her a lot. Their dad is busy but it’s obvious he cares about them and they all care about him and try to make things easier for him. Laura Jean became one of those characters that are really special to me, even though I didn’t always love everything she did (which would be boring anyway, obviously). She learns a lot about herself and growing up, and expectations and pressures in general. I liked reading about the sisters, and I really enjoyed their dad. I also enjoyed how the writing made the family seem realistic. Plus, the sisters are half Korean, and that was really interesting to read about.
And the letters and romance! Well, I wasn’t sure which way the book was trying to lead me with this aspect. I also don’t want to ruin anything for anyone else, in case you’re the type of person (like me) who wants it all to be new-ish. But I was surprised by how it worked out and I liked not exactly knowing what was going on, and I liked where it went. BUT I will say the ending was frustrating because I just NEEDED more. I still need more. I am pining.
I definitely plan on buying and reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before again! I am so glad I read this one. I was originally slightly miffed at the ending, but I think I have enough distance to be more forgiving about it now. BUT I will most likely need to pre-order or at least put the second book, P.S. I Still Love You on reserve at the library (depending on if I wait to buy the paperback version of #1). Laura Jean is such a great character, and I’m also really interested to see what happens with everyone else in the story. Jenny Han is definitely highlighted on my radar list now! I think if you like contemps, sisters, and interesting romances then you might like this one, too! Added bonus: Laura Jean’s killer wardrobe.