To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Book One of the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Rating: 5 stars
Source: ARC won from a giveaway
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
I don't even know how to begin this review. I read this book several days ago, and I'm writing this review now, NOT because I'm lazy and couldn't write it right away, but because I couldn't find the words to create a review for this book. I still can't, honestly, but the review is supposed to go up on Monday (which you would be reading now), so I have to write something. I already know I'm not going to be doing this book (or my love for this book) justice, so... just know that I love this book so so so so so SO MUCH. Like, a lot.
This book follows the first person narration of Lara Jean, the middle child of three daughters. Her older sister, Margot, is about to go to college in Scotland for her freshman year. Her younger sister, Kitty, is nine years old, and needs her older sisters. Their mother is dead, and their father is a single parent, raising three daughters.
But then there is the small problem of Lara Jean's love letters being sent. They aren't really love letters - they're Lara Jean's "goodbyes", letters that were for her to have closure, and for no one else to see. Well, someone sent them. And four of the five boys got the letters (one was sent back). Peter Kavinsky was smug and gloating. Josh Sanderson (who is now Margot's ex-boyfriend) was pensive and slightly regretful. Lucas Krapf is gay. McClaren (I can't remember his full name) never said anything to Lara Jean.
So, this story is really two stories - about Lara Jean's family life, and her personal life. I LOVE how Jenny Han focuses on both - many times in contemporary novels, we see the romance side really fleshed out, but the family side not-so-fleshed-out. In this book, the importance of sisterhood is really there. Lara Jean must "grow up" and be somewhat of a better role model for Kitty. BUT, Lara Jean must also keep a relationship with her sister in Scotland. Also, notice how one of of the five boys that Lara Jean used to love is Josh, the next-door neighbor, the best friend, and Margot's boyfriend (right until she went to Scotland). That is something that the sisters must reconcile.
I promise I have not given anything away, in terms of the romance. I promise. The romance is so, so perfect, in my opinion. I've seen some reviewers say that they weren't feeling the romance, but I LOVED it. Lara Jean decides to take on a fake boyfriend, so that Josh won't think that she is still interested in him, and so that Margot can get back together with Josh when she comes back in December (and in that way, Lara Jean won't be guilty of liking Margot's ex-boyfriend). But with all things, it's hard not to fall for the fake boyfriend.
So, you might think to yourself, but Alyssa, that sounds a bit like a love triangle? Lara Jean and Josh? Lara Jean and fake boyfriend? Margot and Josh? WHAT?! Trust me, it doesn't seem like a love triangle when you are reading the book. One guy and one girl are CLEARLY meant for each other. I love the romance in this book - it is very well-developed and the progression is gradual and subtle. There were specific scenes that were so poignant and beautiful, but they were the smallest things, like the boy putting his head in Lara Jean's lap, or buying her a donut. LOVE IT.
I'm not telling you who ends up with who or who the fake boyfriend is, but I'm definitely all the way on one boy's side. I don't dislike the other, but there are two distinct pairs and I think the author is going in that direction as well. But I think the author is making the characters work for it, which is a tiny bit irritating but totally worth the read.
The plot of this book is straightforward except not. This book starts in the fall (beginning of a school year), and ends around Christmas time. It's about Lara Jean's romantic journey - figuring out her feelings for Josh and the fake boyfriend and even some of the other letter recipients. It's also about Lara Jean's friendship with a not-so-great influence, Chris. It's about her relationship with her older sister, Margot, her young sister, Kitty, and her father. I would even say it's about her friendship with Josh, even though he is one of the boys she was totally in love with, according to her letter.
The author's writing style is so great! It's cute and girly and definitely fits Lara Jean's personality. I was a bit taken aback when I started reading, because the narration was very informal and bubbly and cute, and I'm so used to a more serious tone. But I really liked this - it worked for Lara Jean, and this book.
I seriously loved this book so, so much, people. I don't think I've said nearly enough about this book, but I think you all understand. I re-read this book about an hour after I finished it, which almost NEVER HAPPENS. It's rare, these days, that I have a desire to re-read books, especially so soon after reading it the first time. Well, this book had that effect on me! I NEED BOOK TWO!
What I Did Not Like:
That it ended. NOT the way it ended, but the fact that it ended. I HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE SECOND BOOK?! What madness is this?
Would I Recommend It:
Oh my gosh YES! I'm not a contemporary person, but this book BLEW ME AWAY. I was excited to read it beforehand (which is surprising, since it's contemporary), so I had a feeling that I would be pretty good (I don't read just ANY contemporary novel). Well, this book was not just good, or great - it was FANTASTIC.
So, contemporary fan or not, you should read this book! It's *kind of* like Rowell's Fangirl - in the sense that anyone can read this book and love it, because it's easy to relate to this heroine and her life in some way or another. I highly recommend to anyone and everyone (which is super helpful, I know. Just trust me).
5 stars. This book was simply AMAZING. I loved everything about it, even the heartbreaking yet beautiful ending. Trust me when I say that I will be HUNTING DOWN every and any advanced reader copy of the second book (if they are printed), because I must read that book AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
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