Book Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: April 15th 2014
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.
The narration I got from Lara Jean and Lara Jean as a character really took some getting used to on my part. Because I read so many indie books and books that center around a dystopian, sci-fi, and fantasy world, I had become very accustomed to a more…feisty, witty and strong narration. Lara Jean is anything but. Lara Jean is the definition of soft and fluffy. She is the “good girl” who loves baking, doesn’t swear, and dresses like her part as well. She takes no risks, and she is a loving older sister that forgives her siblings way too easily….*cough* I also didn’t like Peter as much as I should’ve. I liked him, but I’m getting a very unreliable impression from him (in other words, I’m not confident if he cares about Lara Jean that much). I know this is a book, so we all know he would care about her to a very great extent, but if this is real life and I’m Lara Jean I’ll be extremely uneased as well. However, despite all this, I love this book – which means I must tolerate its flaws. I care about that story, and I care about the characters, so I enjoyed his book with the price of putting up with these things that I didn’t like. I also extremely appreciate how the book revolves truly and fully around Lara Jean as a character and her life. Unlike typical contemporary YA romance books where the story-line fully revolves around the romance, I can tell that To All the Boys I’ve Loved before priority Lara Jean much more than anyone else (even Peter being at most just a main side character) because of how the story follows Lara Jean with not too much pressure to have Peter as well. You can see this from how the interactions between Peter doesn't seem forced so that he can get more “page time”, but only because Lara Jean is there and because it had something to do with Lara Jean (does that make sense?). I think the most beautiful thing and the thing to appreciate most about this book is its simplicity and its pureness. It doesn’t have an assassin heroine, a prince as its romantic interest, or a life-threatening mission with the world on the line. It doesn’t have adrenaline-infusing action scenes, bad-ass or even an exciting fast-paced story-line. Hell, Lara Jean literally is a cry-baby, and TATBILB’s story-line can be described as “cute” when compared to other contemporary YA novels (who often have some seriously intense drama going on). And I think that is what makes it most beautiful and attractive to me about this book. In other words, I am probably looking at this book like how Peter view Lara Jean. My rating: 4.5/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenny Han is the New York Times bestselling author of Shug, The Summer I Turned Pretty series, co-author of the Burn for Burn series, and most recently, the To All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy. She is a former children's bookseller and children's librarian. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.