To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All the Boys I've Loved Before


Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han

Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #1

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release Date: April 15th 2014

Rating:

Four Stars

Lara Jean 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 can pour out her heart and soul and say 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.

– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“When I write, I hold nothing back. I write like he’ll never read it. Because he never will. Every secret thought, every careful observation, everything I’ve saved up inside me, I put it all in the letter. When I’m done, I seal it, I address it, and then I put it in my teal hatbox.They’re not love letters in the strictest sense of the word. My letters are for when I don’t want to be in love anymore. They’re for good-bye.”

Lara-Jean lives a quiet life. She is content spending time at home baking in the evening when her school friends are out partying, and she is content spending most of her time with her older sister Margot and Margot’s boyfriend Josh. Despite having never had a boyfriend herself Lara-Jean has been in love, and when she wants to say to goodbye to whatever feelings she harbours she writings them a love letter; something never meant to be sent but hidden away in a hatbox her mother gave her.

However when Peter, who was one of her letter recipients, comes up to her one day referring to the things Lara-Jean wrote about him, things he shouldn’t know, she races home and discovers her hatbox is missing and all the letter she wrote with her private thoughts have been sent to the five boys she wrote them to. One of whom being her sister’s boyfriend Josh.

“Good,” he says, and he takes my hand, and he closes my locker door, and he walks me to class like a real boyfriend, like we’re really in love. How was I supposed to know what’s real and what’s not? It feels like I’m the only one who doesn’t know the difference.

Desperate to avoid the tension between her and Josh now Margot has dumped him and left for Scotland to attend university Lara Jean mentions she has a boyfriend, and points out Peter as he walks down the hall. Together the two come up with a contract for a fake relationship that benefits both of them. For Lara Jean it’s to ensure that Josh gets the message that whatever feelings she had for him are in the past, and for Peter it’s to make his ex girlfriend, and Lara Jean’s ex best friend, jealous.

Of course as Lara Jean and Peter start ‘dating’ things turn out to be more complicated than what they originally thought. The more time Lara Jean spends with Peter, the more he fits seamlessly into her life, the more she starts question what about their relationship is real and what is a show for Gen and Josh.

…The Characters

“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.”

Lara Jean is a really innocent character, and I think at times she came across as a little naive, however I really liked her development. Instead of going out to parties with her school friends Lara Jean would prefer to stay at home baking, or do volunteer work at the old people’s home. Though she’s been in love before Lara Jean has never had a boyfriend; her focus has been on her family and it was really interested reading the dynamics between the three Song girls. With her older sister moving all the way to Scotland for university Lara Jean picks up a lot of the slack with looking after her younger sister, Kitty. Things changed for the three sisters, gradually throughout the story, as their roles within their family changed.

I loved reading Lara Jean’s relationship with the people outside of her family as well; her friendship with Chris and her old friendship with Gen which turned sour as the two grew apart, and also her relationships, no matter how small, with all the boys she wrote letters to.

“That’s when I see him. Peter Kavinsky, walking down the hallway. Like magic. Beautiful, dark-haired Peter. He deserves background music, he looks so good.”

Peter seemed like a stereotypical jock at first glance, teasing Lara Jean in a way that’s both light-hearted and a little cruel. He’s the most popular boy in school, and everyone seems to love him but he has his hidden depths that we don’t really discover until Lara Jean does. Peter has only even been with Gen so the label of ‘player’ doesn’t really fit him.

Although the ‘relationship’ between Lara Jean and Peter began as a fake one it did start to develop into more, which will probably come as a surprise to no one, but I couldn’t really get invested in it. I thought they were good friends, but I couldn’t really see what was happening between them that showed their deeper feelings for one another. There was still a lot between them; the letters Lara Jean sent out to the other boys and Peter’s ex Gen who he never fully pulled away from. I’m not saying their relationship was rushed, because it wasn’t, I just didn’t notice the feelings growing between them and it felt a little forced in my mind.

“Sisters are supposed to fight and make up, because they are sisters and sisters always find their way back to each other. But the thing that scares me is that maybe we won’t.”

The relationship Lara Jean has with her family, mainly her sisters, was one of my favourite parts of this story. A lot of the time in YA books the family seem to be pushed to one side for the main characters development but this wasn’t the case in To All the Boys I Loved Before. When her sister leaves for Scotland the dynamics change between her and Lara Jean; it felt so real because sometimes, no matter how close a family is, there are forces beyond our control that can tear siblings apart a little.

There was a potential in this book to build a love triangle, either between Margot, Lara Jean and Josh or Peter, Lara Jean and Josh, but it was never developed. Lara Jean respected the relationship between her sister and Josh and did everything she could to move on from her feelings for him. I feel the situation could have been exploited as a cheap way to create tension but it wasn’t and I felt that was refreshing to see.

…The Setting

“When my dad has a day off, he cooks Korean food. It’s not exactly authentic, and sometimes he just goes to the Korean market and buys ready-made side dishes and marinated meat, but sometimes he’ll call our grandma for a recipe and he’ll try. That’s the thing: Daddy tries. He doesn’t say so, but I know it’s because he doesn’t want us to lose our connection to our Korean side, and food is the only way he knows how to contribute.”

I’m not going to talk too much about the setting for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, after all in a contemporary book what is there to really say. Take any town in America and you pretty much got the whole picture. What I did like about this book was all the references to Lara Jean’s Korean heritage. Even though they lost their mother at a young age Lara Jean’s father works hard to keep her and her sisters in touch with that part of their culture; he cooks Korean food for them, though admittedly not well, and they all celebrate Korean thanksgiving with their extended family. It’s not a major part of the story by any means but it was nice to see a character who embraces their roots, and whose heritage is still a big part of their lives. I’m not Korean and I have no knowledge of the customs or culture but I do think it was well represented in this book.


I wouldn’t say I loved this book, don’t get me wrong I enjoyed it but there were a few little issues I had with the development of the relationship between Lara Jean and Peter I couldn’t seem to get past. Still To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was a really enjoyable read, even when I was worried about the direction the story could potentially go in (see the potential love triangle with Lara Jean and Josh).

What did you think of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

Advertisements

30 thoughts on “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

  1. I read this the other day and enjoyed it too, I believe I rated it the same as you 🙂 I liked it as a light hearted read, and it only took me a day to read so that was good. I probably wouldn’t have liked it as much if it took me the same amount of time as a normal, for some reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh, I’ll definitely have to check out your review for it then, I’d be interested to see what else you though about it 🙂
      Yeah as contemporaries go it was a light hearted and fluffy read, which I enjoyed, and I got through it quite quickly as well. I do think that’s the case with most contemporaries though. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review, I am glad to hear you enjoyed it! I think what I loved the most about this story, is Lara Jean, because she is so relatable, not going out too often and baking and everything, she was so endearing, I loved her! ❤ I agree a bit with your thoughts on Lara Jean and Peter's relationship, though I still found them very cute 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Marie! Yeah this was a really good book, I won’t say it’s my favourite contemporary but it’s definitely up there! Oh yes Lara Jean was so relatablem there was a lot about her I identified with as well so it was kind of nice to see someone like her in a YA book, and honestly her relationship with her sister’s was just perfect! ❤
      Oh definitely very cute, I think I just preferred their relationship in the second book though, when they're no longer 'faking it'! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When me and my sister are getting along, which is most of the time now, it reminds me of ours as well. 😀 Plus even without sisters family is such an important part of anyone’s life so it’s nice to see it actually included in YA books. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad to see that you picked it up! Peter’s indecisiveness bothered me too, and while I’m such a softie when it comes to the fake relationships trope, I do think theirs needed a bit more shown, not told development.

    I did think this book was VERY cute, though I kind of wish we focus more on Lara Jean’s sisters than her – personally they were a bit more interesting. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It took me a while to get around to it but I did eventually! 🙂 Yeah I get what you mean, I honestly thought at times he would go back to Gen. In the end I actually preferred Peter in the second book than I did in the first.
      I would have loved to see more of their fake relationship, and see more of it in front of other people as well. I did love her sisters, especially Kitty who was just amazing in every scene she was in! ❤

      Like

    1. I think if you’re looking for a cute, light and fluffy read then this is definitely the book for you 🙂 so I would recommend it. I have read the second book, I’ll be posting my review for it a little later. I didn’t think the plot fell apart, there were similarities between the first and second book but overall it was still an enjoyable read.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s