Author: Jenny Han
Published: April, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
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.
Where, oh where do I begin with this book? I bought it as a sort of bubble gum-fluffy-cutesy-quick breeze through read, and I wasn’t disappointed on that front. But my problem with this book is, was it really about all the boys she loved before?
I picked up this book hoping to nostalgically reconnect with the sort of crushes my younger self used to have. Instead, I got a heaping of sisterhood. Sisterhood is great and all, and I’ve always enjoyed books on that topic, but I was not expecting that in this book. Han packaged this book to be about cute young crushes when it was really about the protagonist, Lara Jean’s relationship with her older sister and said sister’s unattainable perfection.
Margot, Lara Jean’s big sister, is one of those characters who are supposed to be perfect and meticulous and fastidious and do everything correctly. I only ever got to see her through Lara Jean’s eyes, and Lara Jean basically worshiped the ground she walked for most of the book, which got really boring really fast. Lara Jean obviously idolized Margot and measured herself up against her big sister’s perfection.
I didn’t particularly like Lara Jean or Margot, but I loved their little sister, Kitty. Kitty had an acerbic tongue, which I really enjoyed. She was sharp witted, a little sassy, and a breath of fresh air in a book filled with such stuffy characters.
The actual romance aspect of the book was pretty predictable. However, I did enjoy some really cute parts between Lara Jean and two of the boys she’d loved before. Those gave me what I’d been looking for: adorable, sweet, young teenage crushes. I also liked the way Han developed the relationship between Lara Jean and Peter. I noticed how she basically recycled the camaraderie between Belly and her summer boys from her Summer Trilogy but basically switched the genders to end up with Josh and his Song girls. Somehow, it worked.
Even though the romance was predictable, it was endearing and lovely. I had a good time reading Lara Jean’s winsome letters to her crushes. I really liked her ‘fake’ relationship, and how it transformed into actual ‘love’. It was engaging.
I don’t want to give away too much, but I’ll just tell you that if you’re looking for a fluffy bunny romance alone, you’ll be looking for a diamond in the rough. It may or may not be worth it.
Honorable mention to the cover – It was so adorable and picturesque! I loved to gaze upon it during reading breaks. It looked delicious, in a cupcake-y sort of way. A+ for the cover design!
I feel the need to mention that I really appreciated the threading of Han’s Korean heritage into Lara Jean’s story, because I felt that the inclusion of her Korean culture really enriched the book.
What was up with all the food though? I strongly believe this whole book actually revolved around food. It was certainly a major theme in the story! Han never ceased to mention the food Lara Jean was making, or eating, or just thinking about. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything with that much cuisine in it (apart from a cookbook).
To sum this review up, I thought the book was delightful and charming with its romance but didn’t care much for the in-depth dwelling on Lara Jean’s sister, Margot, and was taken off guard by all the mentions of food and eating in the book.