Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Published by Simon and Schuster on April 15, 2014
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.
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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