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ABOUT the BOOK
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2014
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, 1
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary YA, Secular
Source: Hardcover Buy
FIND the BOOK ELSEWHERE: Amazon | Goodreads
FIND the REVIEW ELSEWHERE: Amazon | Goodreads | WordPress
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han | Book Review
THE STORY | Lara Jean Song carries and suppresses a serious crush on the handsome boy next door. Though she knows him quite well, Josh is a year older than Lara Jean, but it’s not their age that’s the barrier to a would-be romance. Rather, it’s the very important fact that Josh dates Lara Jean’s elder sister, Margot. But as Margot is heading off to college, she decides it’s best she and Josh break it off. Suddenly, for the boy who was once an integral part of the Song household, things are awkward.
Things become complicated when, suddenly, five letters Lara Jean once wrote are mailed to five individual recipients. These recipients are the five boys she’s had crushes on over the years… one of whom is Josh, and another is her first kiss, a boy named Peter.
THE REVIEW | If I think back on all of the book memes or book tags I’ve participated, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has been featured a lot here. Sadly, none of these features has been because I’ve actually read this novel. All it has done is sit on my shelf and look pretty. (Which it does so very well.) The must-read-now turning point is when news broke Netflix would air the film adaptation in August. This news is all the incentive this bookworm needed.
A year (or better) ago, I did begin to read this novel, only to set it aside when review books had to take priority. Nonetheless, even in those first few pages, I “knew” this book was going to be this girl’s cup of tea. While reading it this year, the more pages and chapters that fly by, the more any lingering reservations fell away. The story is a kind of magic contemporary fiction doesn’t always capture. Primary reason for this is because of the old-fashioned charms of this plot. In short, I’ll spoil this review by saying, this book surpasses expectations.
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There is so much to love about this novel that I’m at a loss as to where to begin. Let’s say, its heroine. Lara Jean Song Covey is without question one of the cutest YA heroines I’ve met. It’s not because she’s bold or outgoing or shy or bookish or any of the typical stereotypes characters are saddled with. No, it’s because she’s ordinary. This I don’t say as a dispositive or as an insult to Lara Jean, but rather as a good thing. She’s special because of who she is, and for the most part, this translates to little drama. Something I can appreciate.
“Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That’s the part of the risk. I don’t want to be scared anymore.” – Jenny Han
The book does take the romances back and forth and leaves them “off and on” more than once, but overall this doesn’t harm the story. There is one point in the romantic entanglements that I wish hadn’t been smoothed out given that a few pages later, this fragile thread snaps, but overall, the book is near YA perfection. Important to the story is the bond between sisters, and this one is sweet. Some of the moments even elicit a kind of Little Women feel. It’s in the details of ToAll the Boys I’ve Loved Before that this one shines. Whether it’s the idiosyncrasies or the cuteness of Lara Jean’s “love letters,” it’s not difficult to understand this novel’s popularity. It’s a love letter sure to remain on my shelf. ♥
Content: this is secular YA fiction, and as such, the content allows profanity (including 3-5 uses of the f-word), and some minor conversation about having sex.