To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Young Adult | Contemporary | Romance
Published by Simon & Schuster
Released April 15, 2014
Goodreads | Amazon
I’m usually pretty good at avoiding the hype surrounding books, but To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is one that I chose to read because of that hype. I’m not generally a fan of young adult contemporaries, and I also don’t read much in the way of romance. Normally, I doubt I would have read this book, but I kept seeing it and hearing about it literally everywhere, so I finally picked it up at my library.
Not quite a third of the way through this book, I realized that I was too old for it. I hate DNF-ing a book though, so I finished reading it. In this review, I’m going to imagine my thoughts had I read the book back in high school, which is the age group that it’s meant for. While I’m of the opinion that people should read whatever the hell they want to, whether it’s young adult, children’s, or adult literature, I’m starting to realize that my interest in young adult contemporary is fading fast. I still love young adult fantasy (I’m literally dying as I wait for Sabaa Tahir’s next installment of the An Ember in the Ashes series) and am willing to read plenty of YA horror, sci-fi, and magical realism, but everything else is starting to feel much too young to me, which makes it difficult to identify with the characters.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the first book in a trilogy about Lara Jean, a teenage girl who writes secret love letters to the boys in her life that she falls in love with. The letters are hidden out of sight and are not meant for anyone else to see. One day, however, her letters disappear, and she’s horrified to find out that somebody mailed them out to the boys she’d loved.
I enjoyed the plot of this novel. If something like that had happened to me when I was a teenager I would have been humiliated and would have hidden away in my bedroom until the end of time.
Out of the five letters sent, one is to her older sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh; the second is to Peter, her first kiss and an old friend she’s fell out of touch with; a boy from a summer camp she attended named Kenny; and finally John and Lucas, two of her peers at school.
There’s a bit of a love triangle here, which is a trope I don’t enjoy. Josh and Peter are her two main interests in this novel, and I found both of them to be problematic. Josh was her sister’s ex and essentially a member of her family, and it seemed as though Josh was reeling from being broken up with by Lara Jean’s sister, which lead to quite a bit of uncomfortable awkwardness. Then we have Peter, who starts “fake-dating” Lara Jean so they can make both Josh and Peter’s ex-girlfriend jealous. As an adult, I find all three of the characters to be petty, and the real and fake relationships a terrible idea, but as a teenager, I probably would have enjoyed the book.
The writing and the pacing were good, and I found that the characters were developed enough to have very distinct personalities. Since, as I said earlier, I feel like this book is too young for me, I won’t be continuing with the rest of the series, but I’d still recommend this book to people who love young adult contemporary romances.