Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.
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.
Jenny Han is another one of those staple YA authors that I’ve somehow never read, so I decided to remedy that with her latest book, the first in a duology if I’m not mistaken. Luckily for me – or Han, if I want to be a little egotistical – I ended up quite enjoying this book and look forward to its sequel as well as reading her short backlog of books.
At the beginning, I wasn’t too sure how I felt about this book. It was interesting enough, I suppose, but there were wasn’t anything that made it stand out at the beginning that made me want to read it all day and do little else. So, it certainly wasn’t bad, but I just wasn’t too interested yet. Of course, that yet is the key word.
I was kind of surprised by how little the main premise in the summary – you know, Lara Jean’s love letters were sent out to all the boys she wrote them to and she has to deal with the fall-out – seemed to play a part in the story. I mean, it definitely happened and set in motion some important relationships and events that last throughout the whole book, but it really wasn’t a very active part of the story. Instead, the story focused on Lara Jean’s relationship with two different boys and her sisters. So, it wasn’t a bad thing, but I was kind of confused when the letter thing didn’t happen until at least fifty pages in and then it wasn’t a huge part of the story.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Lara Jean, but at the same time she was a bit endearing. I definitely understand why people kept saying that she seemed really young, but I think I was less critical of her because a lot of the “younger” characteristics, like staying in most of the time and not using a lot of curse words, are things that I tend to do and definitely did when I was her age. I also wasn’t a big fan of her big sister, but since she was off at college for most of the book, I didn’t have to worry about her too much. I really liked one of the love interests (but I won’t say who) and Lara Jean’s little sister could be pretty adorable, so the characters could be a mixed bag for me.
There wasn’t too much to the setting, or at least not that I can remember a couple of week later as I write this review. So, not much to say about this category. I know, I know, I should have written this review sooner!
The Adult Situation
There wasn’t a very big adult presence. Lara Jean’s mother died a while ago, which is why her family dynamic is the way it is, but her father doesn’t seem to be there much more. The girls seem to be basically running the household, and while I can definitely understand them pitching in to help since he’s a single father who apparently has a job tha sounds like it can be time-consuming, but it sounds like he doesn’t do anything sometimes. It’s really frustrating when this happens in YA books – or any books, really, because kids should be allowed to be kids and not run the household all by themselves.
There are two love interests in this book, and I definitely prefer one over the other, but they’re both interesting. Lara Jean is a bit obsessed with romance, from writing letters to her crushes to having all of these romantic ideals and such, and it was nice to read about a girl who likes boys and doesn’t try to downplay that. The ending was a bit open-ended, which definitely seemed like the more realistic option even if it wasn’t as romantic and dramatic, but there were plenty of cute moments before that and we’ll see how things might change with the sequel (this is a duology, if I remember correctly).
Like I said, the ending was a bit open-ended, which had me kind of conflicted – you know, happy because it was more realistic but kind of sad because I wouldn’t have minded a dramatic and romantic moment, but the ending was still good. It was definitely better when I remembered that there would be a sequel.
I know that I spent a good portion of this review complaining and being in between on my opinions, but I actually did like this book. I thought it was cute and adorable and such and I definitely want a copy of it if only to prettify my bookcases (and because I’d genuinely like to reread it). I’m excited to read the sequel when it comes out and am interested in checking out all of Han’s previous work!