Books · REVIEWS

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

“Relationships are incredibly amorphous. They could get back together. They could stay friends. Who’s to say what will happen in the future?”

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.

Personal Thoughts:

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is surprisingly accessible and ultimately compelling read. I wasn’t expecting to get swept by a simple romantic story but I am swept by this book, adding one more sleepless night to my calendar since I wasn’t able to stop reading till the end page.

The story follows Lara Jean a half-Korean half-American girl who have never been in a relationship. She’s been in loved before though and she has this extraordinary habit of writing a love letters to the guys she loved as her way of closure. Letters that are supposed to stay in her personal box inside her closet. When the popular Peter, one of her old crushes approached her with one of her letter, Lara Jean is mortified to find out that Peter have read her letter. Then later on she realized that all her letters were sent and one of the recipient is her longtime family friend, Josh who also happened to be her sister’s ex-boyfriend. What she gonna do?

“If love is like a possession, maybe my letters are like my exorcism.”

Lara Jean is a character that is not for everyone to like, but I love her because I can relate to her so much it hurts. Sometimes it feels like I know her more than I’m supposed to. I love how smart and oblivious she is at the same time, how she acts all tough and strong even deep inside all she wants to do is crawl her way out. Her quick-witted attitude adds more fun to the dialogues. All the “I’m the big sister now” scenes are also adorable. It is so much fun seeing her try to act and be responsible after her older sister, Margot moved out and went to college.

The sibling’s relationships are well weaved. It gives more arcs to the plot, focusing not only to the romantic relationship but also to the family relationship. The interactions between the Song girls and their Dad easily paint a family that is not perfect but full of love and care for each other. It’s endearing seeing them do their part as a family, from the regular daily chores to the adjustments of suddenly losing Margot for college.

As for the romance, the story started with Josh Sanderson as Lara Jean’s love interest. I totally understand how Lara Jean easily fall for a guy like him. I mean, her whole family loves the guy, which not only so much convenient but also sweet. But I have my reservations when it comes to Josh. Being Margot ex-boyfriend makes him off-limit. For me, all the fantasies and hopes to have Lara Jean and him in a romantic relationship is gone right from the start. It’s not cheating but still a no no! It’s like an unspoken deal between sisters or even friends.

But I don’t hate Josh. In fact, I like him and his closeness to the Song family. It feels real and authentic. When Josh is asking for permission to Lara Jean to still continue being their friends after he and Margot breakup, I paused reading because the lines he said echo someone in my real life. I totally can relate because I’ve been in that situation before. I’ve lost a lot of wonderful people because of a relationship that didn’t work. It is so easy to say that it will work, that even the romantic relationship end you can still be friends or family with those people who becomes the common denominator of your partner’s world and yours, but in reality it is not that easy.

“Can I still hang out with you guys?” Josh asks me. “Me and Kitty?” “Your dad, too.” “We’re not going anywhere,” I assure him. Josh looks relived. “Good. I’d hate to lose you, too.”

Enter Peter the fake boyfriend. At first I don’t like him because I thought he is just some overconfident guy who will use Lara Jean to get back with his ex-girlfriend. But reading more of his interactions with Lara Jean, I find myself warming and rooting for him. There’s so much potential in him that I wish the author delved more into. But since I just found out there is a second book coming out next year, I am not losing hope.

“I wonder what it’s like to have that much power over a boy. I don’t think I’d want it; it’s a lot of responsibility to hold a person’s heart in your hands.”

The story end in an open-ending note which means there’s more to look forward to for the characters but at the same time it still ends with a note of resolution. I just wish the second/final book is out already so I can find out what will happen to Lara Jean and her love.

Overall, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a delightful contemporary read that will remind us of the crazy things we can do when we were young and in love. It is fun, sweet, and nostalgic. I smile, laugh, sigh, relate, and hope while reading. Will definitely read the next book to find out more about Lara Jean and the boys she loved before, well actually just one boy who I’m particularly rooting for.

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