Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Lara Jean saves things. Porcelain bells and hair ribbons. Cookie cutters.
And then there are her love letters, her most prized possessions.
They aren’t letters she has received – they are letters she has written herself and never sent. They have a permanent home in the teal hatbox her mother gave her.
There are five letters in all, each belonging to a different boy. When Lara Jean writes, she pours everything out onto the pages, because she is the only one who will ever read them.
Her love letters serve a very different purpose than most. They release her. They rid her of her most difficult, prying emotions and set her free. Her letters are for when she wants, when she needs, to let go.
And then, one terrible day, the letters are mailed. The hatbox is empty and the contents are in the hands of the boys who inspired them in the first place.
Now, everything has changed.
Lies are told, realizations are made, emotions are unveiled… and Lara Jean’s big sister – her steadfast, trustworthy big sister – isn’t even here to help her navigate this whirlwind.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a breathtaking story tackling the issues of family, love, and growing up, in a whole new way.
How could I not read this book? It’s practically a YA classic now. Both To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and PS I Still Love You are New York Times Bestsellers. In addition, almost every book blog I’ve seen has reviewed this book and none have rated it lower than 4 stars.
I absolutely love the cover of this book as well. It is soft and romantic with beautiful pink hues and I still can’t get over the title font. It looks like it was written with the type of marker you’d use on a Polaroid picture. In fact, there are Polaroids adorning the walls in the picture-perfect bedroom that the cover boasts.
In short, I loved everything about this book from the second I first saw it. It couldn’t arrive at the library fast enough.
Where do I even start?
Lara Jean is the perfect main character. You fall in love with her at chapter one, and throughout the book she finds ways to creep farther and farther into your heart.
Lara Jean is the kind of character I love, the kind of girl I’d be best friends with. She loves stationary, baking and scrapbooking. She is sweet and nostalgic, and her life centers around her family.
Lara Jean is mature and intelligent in some ways and naive in others. I like this about her because it makes her human. We watch as she makes mistakes, we watch as she makes things right again, and amidst it all we cheer her on. She grows throughout the novel. Her experiences make her stronger.
If I spoke about each and every character in the book we’d be here all day, so I’ll sum it up by saying this:
Each and every person in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is phenomenal. They are well developed and have incredible depth. They all add something special to the story. By the end of the book they have become living, breathing people in the hearts of the readers. They are not stereotypical and they have emotions and a back story. As Lara Jean experiences them firsthand, you get to know them as well. There are reasons for their behavior, and beyond that there are reasons why they are who they are.
Margot is a girl who has been forced to grow up quickly and take on a very difficult role at a young age. She needs to be strong, mature, and selfless.
Kitty, in contrast, acts younger than she is. Her personality is the effect of growing up without a mother and being babied for too long.
And then there’s Peter Kavinsky, Josh, Genevieve, Chris, all of them worthy of a detailed character analysis, all of them so full of emotion, none of them trivial in the slightest.
The relationships between characters are strong. They are incredibly intriguing and they reveal things about the individual characters and force them to change, adapt and grow in their understanding of the world.
Jenny is very talented and skilled. Her writing style is unique, vulnerable and emotional. It just flows.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a book that has the potential to become very cheesy and false if not written tastefully. I think many romances are like this, and many are not done well. They are very cringe worthy.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is not like this. It is written with maturity and it contains sheer quality.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is not just a romance novel. It is much more than that. The way Jenny has written it will appeal to more than just romance lovers.
Jenny Han, in my eyes, is a huge asset to the YA world. We need authors like her, teen authors who can write a good romance novel, drawing in so many aspects to create the perfect equation.
There isn’t a lot to say about the setting because it is not a vital part of this book – the characters, the plot and the relationships are. I’m glad that Jenny identified what mattered in her novel before writing. When authors try to include many aspects in one novel it can become forced.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is so much better than I could have imagined. It is not the one dimensional, romantic, sugary novel that you may expect going in. It deals with real emotions and issues.
Something that I want to stress in this review is that although this book is labelled ‘romance’, family is the main theme. The bond between the Song sisters is real. They are three sisters who have grown up without a mother, leaning on each other and growing together. They rely on each other, and we see how much Lara Jean and Kitty struggle without Margot. I love that this was such a large part of the book because I find that in YA this is often missing. Good family relationships are totally absent and instead teens turn to their friends for approval. In reality, family is what molds and shapes people into who they are.
I’m so glad books like this still exist in the YA world. When I walk into the teen section of a bookstore or library, much of what I see is fantasy and dystopian. I have nothing against those genres, but it is so important that there are still good contemporary picks around. Authors like Jenny and Morgan Matson keep the genre going! It is such an essential part of fiction!
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is the kind of book you finish and stare at for five minutes because you can’t get over just how magnificent it was.
It will make you laugh.
It will make you cry.
It will make you smile.
It will leave you with so many emotions; it will leave you wanting more. It’s the kind of book you just don’t forget.
Want to find out more about Jenny? Visit her at her adorable website!
Well, we’ve come to the end of this review! Thanks so much for reading – it means so much to me! This was a pretty long one, too. I hope it has offered you a little – or a little too much, haha – insight into this book. Please subscribe to my blog for more reviews and posts like this one! I review YA and middle grade!
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