To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han Review: Cute, fluffy (fake) romance

July 7, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han Review: Cute, fluffy (fake) romanceTo All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Published by Simon and Schuster on April 15, 2014
Source: Borrowed
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them... all at once?

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 really wanted to read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before because of the half Korean main character and how cute the story sounded. What I actually read though, was quite different to what I would have expected.

The main premise of the book are five love letters that are accidentally sent off to Lara Jean’s crushes, which she has kept secret. One letter goes to her first kiss, a popular Lacrosse player called Peter, and another goes to her sister’s boyfriend who is their next door neighbour, Josh. What conspires is a fake relationship with Peter, so she can convince Josh that she doesn’t like him anymore (even though she does) so he will stay with her sister, and Peter can convince his ex-girlfriend that he doesn’t care for her anymore.

My letters are for when I don’t want to be in love anymore. They’re for good-bye. Because after I write in my letter, I’m not longer consumed by my all-consuming love…My letters set me free. Or at least they’re supposed to.

I have no idea why Lara Jean agreed to go along with this crazy fake relationship and it actually stays through the course of the book, which wasn’t something I expected. Lara Jean develops feelings for Peter, as they actually grow to care for each other. My problem with the romance is that it actually isn’t a genuine one as Lara Jean agrees to be used, even though there were some cute moments between her and Peter. There’s a kind of love triangle too with Josh on the side, but even that wasn’t really a romance either.

Lara Jean is made out to be a quirky good girl and but her voice actually feels a bit younger than 16, as she makes questionable decisions at times (like going into a fake relationship) and hoping things work out with Josh. For someone who dreams about crushes and relationships, Lara Jean develops quite a lot as a character as she learns what is important at the end of the book.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before focuses on the importance of family, and the sisterly relationships between Lara Jean, her older sister Margot, and their younger sister Kitty. While these sisters will have disagreements and fight, their love for each other was shown through how they looked after each other. It was weird how all of the sisters had a crush on Josh though, although he was such a sweet, responsible and caring boy. Being a single parent, they also had a lot of respect for their dad and I thought it was endearing how he would take care of them and cook their favourite meals. I loved how food was such a big part of the novel too – cookies, cake, Korean meals and turkey!

Margot would say she belongs to herself. Kitty would say she belongs to no one. And I guess I would say I belong to my sisters and my dad, but that won’t always be true. To belong to someone—I didn’t know it, but now that I think about, it seems like that’s all I’ve ever wanted. To really be somebody’s, and to have them be mine.

While it was a cute, fluffy contemporary, the book actually feels lack lustre as nothing seems to happen throughout, except for the fake relationship and a lot of cooking and dreaming about relationships. Both Josh and Peter seem to weave Lara Jean into their own agendas and it ends rather predictably. The book doesn’t even end properly as it leaves us hanging to what actually happens.

epiloguepink

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a realistic, relatable novel about love, family, and going through changes that happen during high school. It reinforces the importance of family, looking after each other and mutual respect. It doesn’t really deliver in the romance department though especially when there’s an open-ended cliffhanger.

Film rights have just been bought for this book – how adorable!

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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70 responses to “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han Review: Cute, fluffy (fake) romance

  1. Somewhat Reserved

    I liked this book more than I expected to. I didn't like how Lara Jean liked Peter, though. He is not good for her! At all! Argh! But at least he wasn't a typical bad boy.

  2. Annzinne Genesa Dadu

    I've read the Summer I turned pretty trilogy and the story between Jeremiah, Belly and Condrad is full of twists and revelations. Jeremiah is such a cute guy. Hope I wish Jeremiah Fisher is a real person. Laurel is such a strong person. really.

    i have also read To all the boys I've loved before and PETER KAVINSKY IS ♥ ♥ ♥. He's so sincere when it comes to Lara Jean's family. But I still wonder who sent those letters to all the boys. Was it even stated in the book?? please answer meeee. :))

  3. This sounds quite adorable! I guess fake relationship can be a good means to illustrate character growth, although I wonder why Lara Jean wanted to hide her feelings from her family. I bought this one, so I'll be reading it when I finish reading a few more of my review copies. Lovely review, Jeann!
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  4. Film rights have been bought for this book? What? I did not know about that. But I think this would translate as a good chick flick. I'm assuming they'll alter the ending. Or maybe mix it up with the sequel? Chick flicks need their happy endings. Haha. I wasn't very fond of this book either. I liked the idea behind it, but the execution was just meh. Also, is it just me or was she crazy to even address the envelopes? Lol.
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  5. Gee, sorry that this ended up being a disappointing read, overall. It's never sounded like my sort of read, but I had thought it was generally well recieved, so I'm sorry to hear it just didn't work for you, especially since you'd been particularly interested in reading it. I think the romance element, which admittedly does seem like it would be a major part of this book, sounds a little worrying, what with the fake romance and all.
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  6. I agree while I did end up serouisly liking this one it was definitely not what I had expected! I guess I expected a more swoon worthy romance or something but I did end up enjoying this one and loved the emphasis it put on sisterhood and family as a whole!

    Great review Jeann 🙂

  7. I'm the same Jeann. I really want to read this one because of the cute, and refreshing story that I've heard from may reviews. But something about this fake romance, sort of stops me from reading it. I just read a novel which had the element of romance but it was so false and annoying, I gave it a low rating much like this one. Lovely review, Jeann. 🙂
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  8. Oh, food! I love when food is a big deal in books! :DD I've been meaning to read this guy for a while but it frustrates me that the book's ending isn't really an ending (though from what I gathered, we do know who she's suppose to end up with?) Anyway, I think I'll save this book for when I need just something cute and fluffy. Thanks for the review!

    PS. Didn't know that this was going to be a movie, cool!

  9. Jenny Han's novels usually work really well for me, but this sounds a bit lighter than her usual story lines. Cute and fluffy is lovely, but if it's lacking that genuine sort of feel that I crave from contemporary novels, it's not for me. Lovely review, Jeann 🙂

  10. I've been highly anticipating this book, and despite your differences with it, I really want to read it. Sure, Lara Jean makes questionable choices, but I hope it's because she's still "young" xD Plus this sounds cute and fluffy! I'd love to see it made into a movie! Great review, Jeann!
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  11. This sounds SO adorable! Yeah for light and fluffy reads, right? 😉 Laura Jean sounds like a character lots of girls will connect with, and I love the mentioned emphasis on family dynamics. Although it's a shame that the romance failed to live up in your eyes, I'm still definitely willing to give this one a try if I'm in the mood for something light.

    Thanks for sharing Jeann, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3
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  12. I bought this book when it came out, but a lot of people felt similarly to you did about it and so I put it off. I'm not sure how I would feel about Lara Jean making questionable decisions and while I like the idea of a fake relationship, I don't know if it sounds appealing in this one. It does sound like there are some very cute moments, but for now, I think I'm going to wait and see how things pan out in the sequel before deciding to reading this one.

    Lovely review as always, Jeann! 🙂

    • Great review Nick, I just loved the hardback of the book it was so beautiful and I love the colours! Definitely matches it's fluffy contents though. If anything, you should read it for the family 🙂

    • Hmmmm, that's a shame that you didn't enjoy the author's writing, I am thinking of pickig it up actually. Yeah, there were some good things in there, so it was enjoyable overall.

  13. I felt very similar about this one. It just seemed like nothing really happened, and it didn't leave a lasting impression on me. I don't really remember it much, and I just finished it a week or two ago. Overall it was fun, just wasn't what I had expected and hoped. Glad you enjoyed it overall. 🙂
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  14. I've read a bunch of reviews on this book, and most were positive. The relationship aspect of the novel which you described does sound a bit odd though. I haven't had a chance to read any of Han's novels except Burn for Burn (which I really enjoyed), but I may have to check her other books out soon just to see what all the fuss is all about. Thanks for the review!
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    • That is so true, the best part was pretty much the Song girls relationship. It was so fluffy and heart warming to see the sisters care for each other. Lara Jean did start the fake relationship, but I just didn't know what was in it for her so much, you know?

  15. I've never read a Han book before, and this book sounds like a good fluffy read, well except for the open-ended cliffhanger. I think teens, even when they are 16, can make really rash decisions. I don't even think 16 is old enough (or am I thinking this because I am waaaaaaayyy older now?! Hahaha!) I will try this one out when I am in the mood for fluff. Cute review, Jeann!
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  16. I agree with you, her voice was very immature for being 16. i have to remind myself that she WAS. I listened to the audio, and even the narrator sounds young haha

    I enjoyed the ending too. I was disappointed at first, but now I feel it ended just right!
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  17. Would you judge me if I tell you that when I was in 6th grade, I met this guy online who was attending school, who also asked me to pretend to be his girlfriend for a week? Haha! It was so weird! We would tell each other "I love yous" and corny crap like "Sweetpea", "Darling", and after that one week, it was finished! He only said he wanted to know what it felt like, but damn, thinking about it now it sure was awkward ^^;;

    In any case, if ever I wanna read this, it would probably be only for the family love and setting. I've heard the young-ish voice of the narrator too, and that makes me extremely wary…
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    • Haha that sounds completely cute Faye! I'm pretty sure when I was in 7th grade I pretended to be an online girlfriend too haha. Oh Faye that's just us discovering ourselves and romance lol!

  18. Meh, I'm not a big fan of the fake relationship either. I loved Jenny Han's summer series, so I went into this with really high expectations, which it failed to deliver. Aside from the really cute family dynamics, most relationships in this book didn't feel real to me. And I really don't get why everyone on goodreads is like "PETER KAVINSKY!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE". That boy irks me. I try so hard to understand him, and whenever I *almost* accept him, he pulls a douchebag move with his ex-girlfriend. Not impressed.

    Thank you for the review! And omg this is going to be a film?! o_o
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    • Yeah, Peter Kavinsky was kind of cute and unexpected, but from the very beginning you know why he's in there for it. Well film rights have been brought, so we'll have to see if it pans out! The family was really cute.

  19. Hmm… a fake relationship that stays mostly fake throughout the whole story? Even if Lara Jean sounds younger than she is, she sounds really cute anyway. I'm just not sure I could buy this whole story, though? I guess I would always be asking : Who sent her letters, and why??

    Great review, Jeann 🙂
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    • Thank you Lexxie, Lara Jean was definitely a cute, light protagonist I think. She was the one who wrote love letters to her crushes, which got accidentally sent out to them 🙂

  20. I don't want to seem so closeminded but I'm still so wary of reading another book from Jenny Han because I was so disappointed of the Summer series, and it looks like this sounds annoying… Haha, but I'm glad that you enjoyed it… ish. 😀

  21. This one sounds like one of those books I'd be all over like a rash. Ridiculously silly, but I love the fluffy romances. Definitely grabbing a copy. I love that Lara Jean isn't the stereotypical wealthy white girl that seems to dominate young adult contemporaries. It's great to see characters with diverse backgrounds, not just random characters slotted in to make up the numbers. Great review Jeann, sorry you didn't connect with it more but sounds like one I'd really enjoy.
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  22. That's awesome that this book has been optioned for film. Yay for diversity! I'm actually hesitant to read this because of the ick factor of liking or potentially ending up with your sister's ex. That's just not a relationship I would root for. Still, outside the predictable romance I like that it focused on family and the relationship between the sisters and their dad. I think if I will ever pick this up, it will definitely be for that reason. Awesome review, Jeann! 🙂
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  23. ki pha

    You know, I did want to read this because the premise sounded good. But after reading some reviews from reviewers I like, Lara might be too…. immature. And with no real romance, I might have to pass

  24. To be honest the first thing that drew me to the novel was the cover, I like the simplicity of it. It's disappointing that the romance isn't its strong point because it seems like a lot of the book is based on it. I like how relationships with the sisters are important because I always feel like authors forget about the families and commonly the 'No Parent Syndrome' occurs. Great reviews, I'm not too sure I'm rushing to read this. It's cool that it'll be a movie though, I can see it being a really good one.
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    • I loved the cover as well, which made me pick up on it. The importance of family and relationship with the sisters was really well emphasised, which was good. It would make a really cute movie, definitely!

  25. Hmmmm…I actually have this on my TBR and I was making my way to eventually reading it. Now I'm just not sure. There were some definite good points that you mentioned but maybe this book is setting the reader for what's to come in the second installment? I'm going to hang tight and see how the story develops if there is an actual 2nd book. 😉 Great review Jeann!
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