Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Publication Date: April 15th, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Sixteeen-year-old Lara Jean has written every crush she’s ever had a love letter: telling them how she feels, what she thinks makes them special, explaining herself. But, she never sends them. She seals them and puts them in an old hat box under her bed. Crush finished. Feelings vented. But then one day, she finds out her letters have beens sent and all the boys she’s loved before—her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, her sister’s ex-boyfriend, and the popular guy— come back into her life asking questions.
I actually read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before as part of #DAReadAThon. Sadly, it’s the first book I’ve completed for the readathon with less than a week left. I had started reading Sabaa Tahir’s A Torch Against the Night and wasn’t super into it, kind of falling into a slump. I decided I needed a break from fantasy, so I picked up this book. And I’m so glad I did. Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a perfect, light, fun, contemporary that I got so wrapped up in I finished it in one sitting.
Like I said this book is pretty light, and that pertains to the writing. A first person teenage-girl narrator, it was very conversational, at times fun and funny, relatable, and overall easy to read. I do have to say though, at the beginning of the books I felt like the narrator Lara Jean was telling me things more than showing them to me and letting me deduce them. As a writing student, I get told time and time again that showing is better than telling, and I could’ve used a little more of that in beginning.
Overall though, I enjoyed Lara Jean’s voice. Just a heads up though, that while she’s sixteen there are moments I felt like that the voice appeared a little bit younger and more naive. But I guess that’s also just who Lara Jean is as a character.
Lara Jean is the middle daughter of the Song family. I loved the family dynamic. First off, Lara Jean’s mother passed away a while before the book has started. Her father works a lot, and her sister Kitty is considerably younger. That creates this really interesting relationship between the three sisters and the father, taking on different roles and responsibilities. Lara Jean’s older sister Margot for example is the responsible “mother like” figure, while Lara Jean is responsible but also the more quirky wistful dreamer.
I personally loved Lara Jean. She really has this quirky vintage fashion sense, and I could very clearly picture her outfits, which I think are really important to her and represent her character. I think her point of view as the middle sister was super interesting. Especially since her older sister “the mom” of the group is going away to college. Lara Jean now has all this responsibility thrust at her, and she tackles things but just in her own way. She’s more of a throw yourself all in person, act first think later.
Butt second favorite sister definitely goes to Kitty. For someone so young she is so spunky, aware, and knowledgeable. She has so many great one-liners and pieces of dialogue.
I also loved that the Song sisters are half Korean. There is I think a lack of diversity in YA. I think overall it’s getting better, but honestly before reading this book I can’t remember the last book I read with an Asian protagonist. And I know that’s partially on me, but I think it speaks to what’s out there or at least what’s out there that gets a lot of hype and coverage. But anyway, I think the sisters being half Korean is especially compelling in this book because it’s from their mother’s side, and she is deceased.
So their interaction with their culture is unique to them, from their father’s attempt at cooking different Korean dishes, holidays with their extended family, and just old things their mother did for them. I think it made it very personal and real. It was an experience that made me feel.
And obviously going from the title—and like how cute is that title—there is a love interest in the story. Or should I say love interests. It’s the love interest and Lara Jean’s relationships with them that really drive the plot. And this raises some young adult contemporary cliches, but I think at least in the beginning and more so towards the end I was on my toes still about what was going to happen, not being completely sure.
This book was just so sweet and adorable, I loved being with Lara Jean and wanted to pick up the next book asap despite it being like two in the morning. You know when you stay up until two in the morning reading it’s a good book. You can find To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Amazon and the author at jennyhan.com.