“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han
4-4 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Everyone has their own way of dealing with a broken heart. Some eat chocolate or ice cream, some watch endless amount of romantic movies, and some listen to love songs, wallowing in their pain. The options are practically limitless, but the way Lara Jean Covey prefers to ease the pain of a broken heart is by writing a letter to the boy who broke it. She holds nothing back while writing the letter, and once written, it is to be placed it in her teal colored hat box. No one will ever read the letter but Lara Jean; somehow, writing about what she felt while she was with that person helps her to let them go. Why should she dwell on a relationship that was only ever in her head, on someone who will never feel the same way that she does? Why not write a goodbye letter, and move on in life?
Her letters always seemed harmless, but when they get sent, Lara Jean has to decide how to clean up the mess she made in writing them. The problem with tidying up her mess, though, is that she doesn’t know where to start! Lara Jean has a long journey ahead of her if she is to resolve this catastrophe that has affected everyone she cares about. Can she protect herself from getting hurt while she tries to fix things with her family and friends, or will Lara Jean end up with another letter in her hat box and a broken heart?
I really liked “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.” It was one of those reads that you’ve heard about from people or seen on the shelves of Barnes and Noble, but you just never thought to pick it up on you own. I probably wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t for my sister; her description of the characters and story made me want to read it, and I am very glad I got the opportunity.
Lara Jean is in my top five favorite female characters (America from “The Selection” is #1 at the moment) because of how real she was. A lot of heroines that I have read about are so unrealistic, and I guess a lot of times I don’t connect with them. I may like the book, but it’s like there is something holding me back from really liking the main female character; they’re not someone (usually) who I would want to be friends with in real life. Lara Jean, however, would be an awesome friend to have. She’s funny, sweet, smart, and a little quirky, and I could imagine her being a real high school student just trying to survive after something REALLY embarrassing had happened to her. If I was in her shoes, I would have crawled under a rock to wait it out so I wouldn’t have to deal with the humiliation.
Lara Jean, though, took the situation in stride (granted, she’s fictional) and it made for some very funny situations. They were so funny in fact, that I would actually burst out laughing (at inopportune times, I might add). I tried to stop myself from laughing out loud, at least while I was hanging out with people, but it could not be contained.
I haven’t had a book do that to me in a long time and I forgot what it was like to have one make me burst out laughing like this one did.
“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” is worth a lot more than laughs, and it deals with some pretty big topics that I think a lot of teens/people eventually deal with in life. I also loved that this book didn’t ended up being one of those awful, empty, vain books where the characters’ minds are so vacant that there is no potential for character growth. I was so proud of Lara Jean for how much she grew as a person in this book. Jenny Han didn’t compromise her character’s (unlike a lot of authors I’ve read) personality, making her someone she wasn’t, she just helped Lara Jean grow up a little and moved her in the right direction. It was cool to see that happen in a more realistic way. Now that you know a little about Lara Jean (I can’t tell you too much because it will ruin the story), let’s talk about some of the other characters.
Josh, Josh, Josh…
At first, I kind of liked his character and I wanted to know more about him and his relationship with Margot, but the longer I read this book, the more I came to dislike his character (you’ll understand why I disliked him once you read this book). In the beginning I felt bad for Josh, and I wanted Margot and him to resolve their issues because you knew that they wanted to get back together, but then he started to get all moody towards Lara Jean (kind of unintentionally, but still), and it was really irritating. I felt like he didn’t deserve to have Lara Jean as a friend and that she was way too good for him. The final nail his coffin (for me) happened in the last couple of chapters; it was just SOOOOO selfish of him, and what he did put a lot of other people in bad positions.
I was done with the character long before that scene had happened, but it made me dislike him even more.*Sighs*
Josh and his awfulness aside, I felt like Jenny Han did a really good job of creating believable situations between friends and siblings, especially between the Song sisters. Margot, Lara Jean, and Kitty all love each other, but that doesn’t make things easy, and I liked seeing their dynamic as they went about life. I do have to say that Margot was a bit cold for my taste, and the scene that really made me dislike her attitude was when she came home for Christmas break. Something happened and she treated Lara Jean really terribly when it wasn’t even her sister’s fault. I get that people lash out, but that was unwarranted! I do have to give props to the author, though, because after all their fights, the sisters decide to mend their broken fences and forgive one another. It reminded me of the last epic scene in “Frozen.” I’m always up for a story about sisters sticking together!
The last person I want to discuss in Peter. In the beginning of the book you know that he’s the popular, super good-looking guy at school. Peter’s the kind of guy that everyone either has a crush on, or they want to be like him. He was a good guy character, but when I first started this book, I didn’t like or dislike him; I guess you could say I was neutral when it came to Peter. I didn’t care whether he was in a scene or not, I was just reading “To All The Boys I’ve Love Before” because of how much I liked Lara Jean. But the more he was in the book, the more he endeared himself to me. His character snuck up on me when I wasn’t paying attention, and once I finally took a moment in the middle of the book to absorb what I liked and disliked, that’s when I realized how much I loved his character.
I don’t know all the reasons why I ended up liking Peter so much, but I do know that I loved that he got along so well with Kitty and how nice he was to her and Lara Jean, and I also liked that he fit in with the Song/Covey family so well. It was really cute and sweet, and I liked what his character brought to this story. Lara Jean’s and Peter’s fake relationship was also quite funny at times (there’s a scene that involves a car, antiques, and competitive spirit. I was laughing so hard I almost cried!), and I really loved that Lara Jean brought out the best in him.
“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han ended well, but it was on a bittersweet note and it even made me tear up a bit.
This was a beautifully written and sweet book. I so enjoyed Lara Jean as a character, and I loved seeing her grow into a young woman. This is a really great coming of age story. Loved it!!