Rummanah Aasi
 To All the Boys I've Loved Before highlights all the reasons why I'm a big fan of Jenny Han's books: wonderful characters, an interesting plot, and the right balance between romance and an coming of age novel. Once I started reading this book, I found it very hard to put it down.

Description: 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.

Review: Lara Jean Song has always loved from a distance and writes never-to-be-mailed letters to every boy she's ever liked. In those letters she writes the reasons why she fell for her crushes and it is her way of purging them out of her system in order for her to move on. Lara Jean's easy system and carefree life goes out of control when her letters are accidentally sent out. On her list is Josh, the boy next door, her best friend, and most recently her older sister, Margot's ex-boyfriend. Lara Jean's relationship with Josh is complicated. She loved him before he got together with her sister, but stopped her feelings when Josh and Margot got together. Now Margot has left for college, Lara Jean wonders if she has a chance with Josh, but immediately feels guilty for even thinking this could even happen. She makes a decision to not come in between her sister and Josh and concocts a plan to date someone in order to desperately convince Josh that she's over her crush. Peter, the popular jock at school, also received one of Lara Jean's love letters, and-hoping to make his ex-girlfriend jealous-agrees to be her "pretend" beau. 
  I loved Lara Jean right from the moment she appeared on the page. I could very easily relate to her. She lives in her own world, having more fun creating activities in her mind than actually doing them, an unabashed homebody who adores her family. Unlike typical teen romances, this is as much the story of a family as it is about falling in love. Family traditions are skillfully woven into the first-person narrative, including some from the mother's Korean heritage, which felt natural and welcoming and not at all forced. Since her mother died, Margot has taken up the role as a parent to Lara Jean and their kid sister, the ever adorable and feisty Kitty, but that role is soon passed on when Margot goes off to college and gives the parental torch to Lara Jean. Though the three sisters are very close, they also have conflicts to resolve, and Lara Jean's perspective as a middle child suddenly left in charge is compelling. We slowly watch Lara Jean come out of her shell and gain self confidence as well as independence as the story progresses. 
  The romance is very cute in the book too as Lara Jean tries to sort out her feelings. With Josh there is a natural comfort level where she can easily talk to him without feeling stupid, but I didn't really feel any spark between them but more along the lines of a brother-sister relationship. Peter, however, is much more complicated. Easily dismissed as a cute, self absorbed jock, Peter kept surprising Lara Jean and myself with his hidden layers of sensitivity and vulnerability. Peter also helps Lara Jean to take risks and be herself. 
  The only downfall for this book is that it ends abruptly, but thankfully there is another book on the way that will continue Lara Jean's confusion and adventures. So while there are indications of a love triangle, I really don't think there is a strong case for it for this book, but we shall see what happens in the next book as we see how Lara Jean's other crushes handle her letters. I really can't wait to be back in the Song house and catch up with these characters! 

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of caution: There is some language, teen party scene with underage drinking, sex is mentioned but not discussed in detail. Recommended to Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, On the Fence by Kasie West, Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
7 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    "having more fun creating activities in her mind than actually doing them, an unabashed homebody who adores her family."

    That actually sounds a whole lot like me Rummanah, so I think Lara Jean and I are going to get along really well:) I don't love that the ending is a bit abrupt, but like you said, another book is on its way so I can overlook that for the most part. So looking forward to starting this series!

  2. I really need to read this author. Everyone loves her and this book has gotten such terrific reviews. I am going to hunt down a copy and get it read. It sounds cute and sweet and just what I need.

  3. I read this book and loved it! I can't wait for P.S. I Still Love You. :)

  4. Ooh. That sounds great. I've only read one Han book and should read more. I am particularly interested in the sister dynamic. Although I'm a bit irritated of yet another dead parent book.

  5. This sounds so good but I really hate the sound of the abrupt ending. I usually hate them more than cliffies, but it is good to know that there are more books out there. It does soften the blow. :)

  6. I enjoyed this one too, Rummanah. Lara Jean was so easy to relate to, and I totally agree that the blend of Korean-American culture in her house felt very natural.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    So glad you loved this! Lara Jean is awesome, and I'm so thrilled that more time with her is just around the corner. :-) Lovely review!

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