To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
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.
I loved this book, but unfortunately not as much as I was expecting to, and not as much as I enjoyed the movie. *gasp!* What is this blasphemy???
I guess my biggest concern with the book was that I didn’t like Peter Kavinsky. Lara Jean says something along the lines of “he’s not what you’d think” and “it was nice to discover there was more to him than just a pretty face” (paraphrases!) but the book didn’t really read that way. He came across as kind of a jerk. I didn’t like the way he treated Lara Jean like property. Which, I think may have been sort of the point, but the movie is cuter.
I did love reading the family dynamics. They are so rare in YA, so this is a gem to be treasured. What I loved was that Lara Jean’s relationship with her sisters isn’t sugar coated. They love each other, but they also fight. They don’t agree about everything, and they say and do hurtful things. But at the end of the day, family comes first. I love that.
The Me-Too message in this book was so important for teenage girls (and boys!) to read. When a guy has sex he’s a stud. When a girl has sex she’s a slut. It’s not fair, and we need to be aware of it so that we can start moving to make a change. The way this book openly acknowledges that problem is empowering and thought-provoking.
I also loved the way To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before read like real life. Despite such a preposterous premise, the details felt so authentic. I adored the little bits about every day life. Making sandwiches, bake sales, where you go before school, riding the bus. The way even small moments feel so huge when you’re young.
Overall I highly recommend this book for teens (and anyone who loves reading about the teenage experience). It’s a quick read, I finished it in about 36 hours, and I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the series.