Title: To All The Boy’s I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Standalone or Series: Book 1 of a duology
Published: April 15th 2014
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.
“My letters are for when I don’t want to be in love anymore. They’re for good-bye. Because after I write in my letter, I’m not longer consumed by my all-consuming love…My letters set me free. Or at least they’re supposed to.“
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was a hard book to review, because I have such mixed feelings about this book. I loved the cover and the title, and a story of secret love letters being sent out not to one, but five people sounded really fun to read. However, I felt that this book was a bit of a let-down. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy parts of it, but the story wasn’t what I really expected.
Firstly, the letters weren’t the main focus of the story. They were more of set-up for another plot point to take place – and then they just sort of took a back seat for the rest of the story. Which disappointed me, because I picked up this book for the letters!
I also felt that there was a lack of plot. The story and the romance sort of meandered a bit here and there, and the ending wasn’t really satisfying. I found it anti-climactic. I know it’s meant to be part of a duology, but most of conflicts were left unresolved.
Lara Jean Song was a confusing character. Confusing because she could be endearing at times, but also annoying. I empathised with her at parts – her love for books, her relationship with her sisters, her desire to be a better older sibling. But there were also moments where she acted really silly – and that frustrated me. As for the romance, there were cute moments sprinkled throughout the book – the trip that Lara Jean and an unnamed character take – but at the end, Lara Jean does not change or grow as a character, and neither does the love interest. AND AGAIN, I didn’t like the ending.
But I did enjoy reading about the three Song sisters. I liked that the sisters were half-Korean, because it’s always nice to read about diverse characters. It was interesting to read how Lara Jean’s relationship with her sisters shifts as changes came into their life. There are fights and snarky moments and tears and sibling love. But I didn’t like Margot, Lara Jean’s older sister. She was very patronizing toward Lara Jean. And okay, maybe the ending made me slightly more sympathetic toward her, but still. I felt certain actions were unjustified, and she was one of my least liked characters.
Will I be picking up the sequel? Yes. ‘Cause I want that proper ending, darn it! Also I’ve made a pact to finish the series I start, unless I absolutely HATE the book.
Who would I recommend this to? People who don’t mind a slow read and at times annoying characters. People who like contemporaries or stories about sibling relationships.
Have you read this book? If so, were you disappointed by the ending too? What did you think about Lara Jean? Let me know in the comments!