To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1
Published: April 15th, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
288 pages (ARC)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: From Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
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.
I hate to admit I haven’t read Jenny Han’s Summer series, but I have read (and loved) Burn for Burn and Fire With Fire, which she co-wrote with Siobhan Vivian. After reading To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, I’ll definitely be bumping the Summer series up on my TBR.
There was just something about this book. Not all that much actually happened, and yet I was completely engrossed and couldn’t put it down. A lot of the story was basically Lara Jean’s every day life and observations about the things and people around her, which sounds like it should be boring, but instead it was engaging.
I really enjoyed the family dynamics in this book. The Coveys aren’t a traditional family; the girls’ mother died when they were young and their father works a lot, so the girls basically take care of each other and their dad. When Margot, the oldest sister, leaves for college, Lara Jean is suddenly left to be in charge and hold her family together. I loved Lara Jean; she’s one of my new favourite book BFFs. She has this innocence about her that's very endearing, and her voice was wonderfully authentic. The situations she experienced, as well as her emotions and reactions, were completely realistic. The 16-year-old in me wanted to be best friends with her as much as my current self.
Lara Jean wasn’t the only great, memorable character in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Each character leapt off the page and was special in their own way. Lara Jean’s little sister Kitty was an absolute trip. I couldn’t stand her at first and wanted to throttle her, but she wormed her way into my heart eventually. She was feisty and had major attitude, and while that was part of what made me dislike her at first, it was also what made me end up liking her. The kid knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.
I don’t want to say too much about the boys in the book and get into spoiler territory, but I loved both the main boys. It was hard to choose between them because they were both awesome in their own ways, but I eventually fell harder for one. Both of them had a lot to teach Lara Jean about life and love, and I appreciated that those lessons weren’t always easy. Life lessons at that age are often painful, and that came across really well in this book. Han has a way with words, and she writes one hell of a relatable story.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was funny, touching, and just absolutely adorable. I laughed, I teared up, I swooned - all the things I love doing while reading! I was thrilled to discover this isn’t going to be a standalone, because it means I get to see my new book BFF again! I can’t wait to reconnect with Lara Jean and her family…and her boys. ;-)
Have you read To All the Boys I've Loved Before? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you read any of Jenny Han's other books?