To All the Boys I've Loved Before (#1) by Jenny Han
Simon & Schuster BYR, 368 pages
US Release Date: April 15, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!
Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them... all at once?
Lara Jean Song 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 pours out her heart and soul and says 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.
"…it's a lot of responsibility to hold a person's heart in your hands."
There are very few books I’ve ever read that I wish I’d actually written. There are the ones I adore, the ones I want to marry, the ones I want to be or read again immediately—but few make me wish I’d had the ideas and magic to create it.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is one of those books I wish I’d written. It is every bit the perfect contemporary with all the elements I want and love: friendship, family, relationships, love, humor, nerdiness. It’s all here in various amounts that tie together and make this wonderfully sweet story. Even on the writing side I loved it! The concept is so original and fun (who didn’t write love letters to boys they’ve loved?!), and the story just follows through wonderfully in tone and voice.
One of my favourite parts was definitely the sisterhood between Lara Jean, Margot and Kitty. It’s sweet and real and though I’ve never once wanted a sister, this one made me a little sad I hadn’t experienced what they have. (Don’t get me wrong, I love my brother. But he’s no sister.) I loved all their fights and teasing, and it was just the perfect portrayal of siblings.
The plot of this book was also so, so wonderful. Surprising and unique and lovable all rolled into one, I never really knew what to expect next. I love that while the cause of most of this are the mysteriously mailed out love letters, they’re not really the main focus. They’re there, you even get to read a few, but it’s so much more than that. It’s not like a checklist, going through the letters and what happened to each boy and how they affect her now—it’s about her life and what happened and what ensues. There’s some heartbreaking moments, there are definitely hilariously funny blunders, and a whole bunch of love throughout.
I can’t not talk about the boys, because uh…I kind of love them. All of them, no matter what. All of her friends and almost-loves and past-loves and maybe-future-somethings are so personable and funny, with such distinct characteristics to all of them. I loved the portrayal of both Josh and Peter—they’re so different, but with some similarities, and it was enough to really make it interesting. The entire concept of…well, I can’t quite say, but there’s some hijinks that ensue, and I love it all.
Also, while writing this review, I found out this is actually a duology – and I am SOSOSO happy about that! Not that I didn’t like the ending. It was actually pretty perfect for how the entire book goes, and it leaves just enough or us to create something wonderful in our heads. But I just love these characters together so much, I’m so excited to find out more. And the title suggests it may come back around to Josh and Margot, and I adore that. Even if it doesn’t, I’m happy with it—as long as I get more time with this bunch, I am all good.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is seriously one of the best contemporaries I have ever read. It is sweet and cute and thoughtful and everything I could ever really want in one. The only disappointment is having to wait until next year for Book 2!
and many, many love letters worth more