Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Series Details: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Blurb from Goodreads:
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?
Sixteen-year-old 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.
I gotta say, this book was surprisingly good and way more fun than I expected. And that’s something coming from someone who isn’t even a big fan of this genre. I admit I only picked this up because after all the dark vibes from my previous read (The Young Elites), I needed something cheerful and fluffy to chase the gloom away. It turns out that this was the perfect book for the job. And now I’m so invested I’m ready to keep reading this series all the way to its final installment.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before doesn’t stray away from your typical teen romance. There were lots of clichés floating around—popular heartthrob meets miss innocent goody two shoes, high school dramas, the gossips and rumors to stir things. Don’t even get me started with the “my parents aren’t home so let’s party all night” scenes. And oh, the fake boyfriend trope.
No, no, don’t run away just yet. The thing is, Jenny Han brilliantly turned those clichés into something fun and enjoyable. The I-could-stay-up-all-night-reading-this kind of enjoyable. There were moments where it got so cheesy but I loved it nonetheless. This is one of the few books that made me fell in love while reading.
“Life doesn’t have to be so planned. Just roll with it and let it happen.”
The story mostly centers on the romance. But aside from that it’s also a story about coming of age, friendship, and adorable family bond. The romance, despite being a cliché, is quite good. I liked how playful it was. The banters were so dope it made me smile—a lot. But what I really loved about the romance is that love didn’t happen instantly for our characters. You can see it developing slowly and in a delightful way throughout the book. It grows bit by bit with every page and it was still growing by the end of the book. I’m really excited to see what happens next.
I don’t know who Lara Jean would end up with but let’s talk about her and Peter. Because I’m shipping them so much. I love the dynamic. They just fill me up with happy feels every time they interact. Despite the huge difference in their personalities, their growing friendship is something to admire. There’s pure honesty in it. I mean, yeah, they’re faking a relationship to fool the others but between the two of them there were no false pretenses. Nobody’s trying to impress the other or trying to be cool for the other. They’re just themselves. What you see is what you get. And I so love that.
“Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That’s the part of the risk.”
This book’s key ingredient wasn’t the romance though. It’s the relationships—different kinds of it. The romantic build-up between our main characters was well done. So is the adorable bond between the Song girls. As well as the father and daughter relationship. There weren’t many books that made me proud of its characters but this one did. I’m most proud of Dr. Covey who had properly raised three daughters alone. And I love seeing how he makes an effort—simple things like trying to cook Korean food for the girls, taking them to their Aunt and Uncle for a visit—so his daughters stay connected to their Korean culture.
“When you lose someone and it still hurts, that’s when you know the love was real.”
One thing I didn’t get (and didn’t quite like) was when Margot broke up with Josh. I just couldn’t see a reason why she should. They obviously love each other and Margot’s reason for breaking up was just… dumb. It was totally unreasonable and unfair to Josh. I have a feeling that it was done just to add a bit more complication to the plot.
And then there’s Lara Jean. I do love her sunny personality but I also get annoyed by how naïve she is at times. Sometimes she sounds like a child to me. I can see a lot of room for development—character-wise. Hopefully we’ll see more growth from Lara Jean in the next installments.
Though this book has its tiny flaws, I’m still giving this a full five star rating based on how much I enjoyed reading it. I was awake all night, trying not to laugh out loud, because I couldn’t put it down—that’s how invested I am. This would be perfect for every young adult looking for a nice and fluffy read. And if you love baking you might find this book even more lovable.