TITLE: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
SERIES: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, book 1
AUTHOR: Jenny Han
FORMAT: Epub via Google Play Books
PAGES/LOCATIONS: 264 pages
GOODREADS’ AVG. RATING: 4.10 out of 5 stars; 58,166 ratings
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.
DATES READ: June 17, 2015 – took me about 4-5 hours!
I think I see the difference now, between loving someone from afar and loving someone up close. When you see them up close, you see the real them, but they also get to see the real you.~Lara Jean Song
I am going to enter my review of this book by reminding readers that I don’t read a lot of contemporary novels and I hope you are willing to forgive me while I basically completely fangirl over this one! I am simply in love with this novel, it was an absolutely wonderful read and is currently my favorite read of 2015. I attribute this not only to the story itself, but also to the amazing writing of author Jenny Han!
What I particularly love about this book is that it really is a story about love, not just teenage love, but the love between sisters as well. Everything changes when eldest sister Margot leaves for college abroad, breaking up with her longtime boyfriend and neighbor Josh. Lara Jean is forced to take on Margot’s role, to be the strong elder sister Kitty needs and can rely on while struggling to save face after her love letters are mysteriously sent out which includes a letter Lara Jean had written to Josh years ago – whoops! I loved the concept of Lara Jean’s letters! When I was in high school I spent a lot of my non-reading time writing. I would write notes, poems, stories, and letters – some were love letters that would never be sent. So I have a strong understanding of the importance of those letters, understanding how Lara Jean used them as not only a way to express her feelings towards crushes but also as a way to almost cleanse those feelings away due to the sense of responsibility she felt towards her family. Ultimately, Lara Jean being confronted with all of these emotions and feelings again is what led to her growing as an individual and understanding that it is okay to have feelings for someone. Loving someone is easy, letting yourself be loved is the hard part – I think this is one of the most difficult things to learn and watching Lara Jean grow into accepting this was beautiful.
I wish Jenny Han was my friend and I could take her out and buy her a cup of coffee and talk to her about just how wonderful her writing is in this novel, because it truly was well done. The two parts I had the most appreciation for were how Lara Jean was written and portrayed as well as how true Han remained to the average high school experience while maintaining the uniqueness of Lara Jean’s story. Lara Jean was written in such a way that the reader could easily slip into her – the reader could experience Lara Jean’s story as if it were their own and that was exactly how I felt as I read this novel. I felt as if Lara Jean’s story could have just as easily been happening to me, as if I was living out Lara Jean’s life across the pages. I loved everything about this reading experience and felt that this novel was well served by this specific writing style and character portrayal. Now let’s face it, when it comes to high school it was either the best or worst time of your life with very little in-between. Han’s portrayal of the high school experience is incredibly well done, remaining brutally honest by not romanticizing it. Lara Jean is forced to face the cruelty of jealousy as well as the horror of slut shaming – being shamed by others for her supposed sexual indiscretion while Peter is seen in a positive light among his friends for the very same thing. Han handles this beautifully and accurately, she doesn’t gloss over the wrongness of the situation and that in itself sends a pretty important message to the reader. I just loved everything about this novel!
TL;DR REVIEW: 5 out of 5 stars. If you are a fan of YA contemporary and haven’t read this book, then you really need to find a copy of it and read it as soon as possible. If you are not sure how you feel about contemporary novels, then this is an excellent first attempt with the genre. Seriously, if you are a fan of books and reading then I would highly suggest reading this book. It is just such a well written story and I can’t recommend it enough!