Review: To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All The Boys I've Loved Before Jenny Han
TO All the boys i've loved before jenny han cover

Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before 
Author: Jenny Han 
Series: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before #1 
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA 
Publication date: April 15, 2014 
Rating: ★★★★ 

Synopsis: 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.

To be honest, I had my doubts when I started reading this book. I’d heard great, but mixed things about it, but I expected it to be really fluffy and predictable. And in many ways it was. But I loved it anyway. I loved it a lot.

A book like this depends on its characters. If they annoy you, if there’s no chemistry, none of it will work. But when you feel it, you cannot put the story down and you finish the book in a matter of hours. Which happened to me when I started reading it… in the middle of the night.

Long story short, Lara Jean wrote a couple of letters when she was still foolishly young. She wrote one to every boy she once ‘loved’ including her neighbour Josh, a kid she met in summer camp etc. She never intended for the boys to get them or for them to read anything she wrote. She just sealed the envelopes and hid them in her room. Now she doesn’t even remember what is in the letters and she doesn’t really care either. Until ‘someone’ (really, it’s pretty obvious who) decides to put them in the mail. And well… that makes things pretty awkward for her.

When someone's been gone a long time, at first you save up all the things you want to tell them. You try to keep track of everything in your head. But it's like trying to hold on to a fistful of sand: all the little bits slip out of your hands, and then you're just clutching air and grit.

I liked Lara Jean Covey a lot. At first I thought: she’s young. Too young, even. Luckily that feeling only lasted a couple of chapters, because Lara Jean is so very, very relatable. There was so much of myself in her. I recognized her struggle between wanting to be in love and being terrified of it. I understood her envy of her sister’s relationship and her inability to properly define relationships. She fell in love with her sister’s boyfriend. Perhaps that’s a terrible thing, but I think she just didn’t understand what being in love meant at that point. She liked Josh a lot and so she thought she was in love. It happens to the best. Josh was nice, at best. I mean I liked him, but he was a bit your typical good-guy, so he wasn’t that breath-taking.

Lara Jean’s love for her family on the other hand was very heart-warming. She grew up with her father and her two sisters Margot and Kitty - her mum passed away when she was younger. Everything about that family felt true. The love/hate relationship between the girls, the struggle of a single dad raising three daughters, Margot trying to find a balance between growing up and still being a member of the family etc.

And then there was Peter Kavinsky. The best characters are probably the ones you don’t particularly like at first. Peter was your typical popular high school kid. I know, cliche – big time. Totally worked, though.  No one in Lara Jean’s environment liked him and neither did she if she was being perfectly honest. But somehow she ended up fake-dating him to protect herself from being exposed. She didn’t want Josh to know she had feelings for him and Peter wanted to makes his ex-girlfriend Genevieve jealous.

It didn’t take long for Peter and Lara Jean to become friends and even less time for me to start liking Kavinsky. He was just very easy-going, sharp, funny, caring… So yes, he was a cliche, but he was a lovely one. In fact, most of the characters were quite obvious, but in this particular case, it didn’t bother me. Why? Because it was very well done. Or maybe I was just in a good (and very sleepy) mood. Peter was flawed, but I loved him because of it. Knowing all this… I don’t suppose I need to draw you a picture?

You'd rather make up a fantasy version of somebody in your head than be with a real person.

I like books where people in love find each other, but what I love even more are stories of people falling in love. Madly in love. I love the struggle, the denial, the doubts every heart-breaking, heart-wrenching piece of it. Until the characters eventually get together. Because as they fall in love, you fall along with them. It’s what happens here and it’s why I love this book.

Do you think there's a difference? Between belonging with and belonging to?

One point of criticism: there was an impossible amount of baking going on. As if the daily routine in the Song-Covey family didn’t include any other pastimes. It was cute at first, but it became annoying pretty soon. In the end I really couldn’t stomach another pastry description.

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