It’s like all the worst people getting a hold of your diary and reading it.
Genre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance,
No. of pages: 288
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.
I ummed and aahhed about picking up this title a number of times; friends of mine had given To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before commendable reviews, however something about the blurb wasn’t enticing me… but I finally gave into the torture and read the book in one sitting.
I expected a little more Mean Girls bitchiness (and pleasantly gratified there wasn’t) but overall I’d describe this book as ‘cute.’ Our main protagonist, Lara Jean, added a unique perspective with a mixed race background and self-confidence. Although that confidence felt a little too trite at times, like when Laura Jean was dolled up for a date and knew how fantastic she looked, compared to her insecurities about facing the boys from her past after they had received her carefrontation letters. I felt it would have added Lara more depth if we’d had her a little more humble about her looks. It’s not a strong tone throughout this novel, but it was something that stood out to me.
This novel distinctively shows Lara Jean’s growth by the end of the book – if you measure her reactions to bad news with those at the start. It’s subtle, but I felt realistic, if not gracious. I love a good character development story!
I loved the family dynamics, especially between sisters – I did not have the benefit of female siblings growing up, and am always fascinated at how they are represented in books, and Jenny Han nailed it.
I’m uncertain about my feelings on Lara Jeans little sister, Kitty. There was a mix of childishness and maturity about her I did not quite understand. Her behaviour at the beginning is typical of any child of her age, but near the end, I was questioning if she was beginning to feel a little too grown up. It may have been in reaction to her circumstances, or a slip by the author. Whether intentional or not, I loved the spoiled stubborn brat and felt it added tension to the story.
For a contemporary romance, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before had a surprising amount of other content around school, friends, family and identity which kept my attention. If it had been too mushy, I’d probably have abandoned it. With a clear concise narrative and age appropriate voice it is a great and quick read. It not only fills the romance quota, but is empowering at the same time – polite feel within its style that is refreshing.
Throw a touch of irony and comedy into the mix and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a great way to while away the afternoon.
Overall reaction: aww!
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