To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Book 1 of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Duology
Published: April 15, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Page Count: 355 pages
Purchase: Amazon | B&N
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Lara Jean 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 can pour out her heart and soul and say 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. — Goodreads
I first read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before right after 2014’s Christmas. It got me out of a huge reading slump. I couldn’t put it down – at work, at home, everywhere. I ended up reading it in about two days, and when I reread it this past weekend in anticipation of picking up the sequel, I did the same thing. I don’t know what it is about Jenny Han, but she really knows how to write the perfect young adult contemporary romance.
To All the Boys does a lot of things right. After first hearing about the book, I thought it would be a typical contemporary. I’m not going to lie, my first thought was, “this is going to be such a cliche.” However, I quickly realized my first impression was wrong… so so SO wrong (I should have known – Jenny Han is a YA queen). I take it back! I’m sorry!
I honestly was surprised the book went in the direction it did. After realizing my initial thought was completely wrong, I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. The book flies by, and then by the end you’re wondering how it could be over so quickly. After I finished reading it last year, I dreaded having to wait the 5 months until the sequel would be released. Why? Because of course the book leaves off on somewhat of a cliff-hanger. If I hadn’t known it was a duology, I would have cried on Jenny Han’s doorstep, needing to know what happened. Thankfully, P.S. I Still Love You was released at the end of May.
Although it’s a quick read, I found myself incredibly invested in the characters and their lives. This book has a whole cast of characters I found myself loving and adoring. My two favorites were probably Kitty and Peter K. Kitty, Lara Jean’s younger sister, is spunky and hilarious. I loved her interactions with each of the other characters (especially Peter), and I found myself rooting for her as she attempted to convince her father to let her get a dog. I also
might have (most definitely have) fallen in love with Peter Kavinsky, one of the male leads. Throughout the book I might have found myself swooning.
He has the look of a handsome boy from a different time. He could be a dashing World War I soldier, handsome enough for a girl to wait years for him to come back from war, so handsome she could wait forever. He could be wearing a red letterman’s jacket, driving around in a Corvette with the top down, one arm on the steering wheel, on his way to pick up his girl for the sock hop. Peter’s kind of wholesome good looks feel more like yesterday than today.
The only reason I gave it 4.5 stars instead of 5 is because at times Lara Jean, the main character, could be a tad frustrating and/or annoying. She’s 16, but at times it felt like she was younger because of her voice. However, that being said, I actually liked her character for the most part, especially as the story progressed. I felt she was relatable, and I loved her quirks.
One of the best things the book has going for it is the family aspect (also, bless Jenny Han for delivering a book that includes diversity – the Song girls are half-Korean and half-Caucasian). It’s not just about a teen romance, but it also focuses on the relationship between three sisters, Margot, Lara Jean, and Kitty. I completely fell in love with the Song girls, and the book made me wish I had sisters of my own. I adored the entire family, including Lara Jean’s widowed father.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is such a fun contemporary. It is an essential read for any Jenny Han fans, or anybody who is looking for a quick, light read. Just make sure you have the sequel, P.S. I Still Love You, ready for when you finish.