Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han



Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: hardcover, publisher (at TLA)
Status: book 1 of the To All the Boys duology (YAY)


Summary:
Lara Jean 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 can pour out her heart and soul and say 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:
April was just a book for winners. I didn't love the Summer series as much as most others, but as soon as I heard the premise of To All the Boys, I knew I'd be picking it up as soon as it came out. I mean, it's just too clever for me not to want to read it, and luckily, I was NOT disappointed.

With a premise such as To All the Boys, you just know going into it that there will be hijinks, and Jenny really delivered. The cool thing is that it's just not romantic antics but also some sisterly shenanigans thrown in for contrast. It adds a depth that some contemporaries lack when they focus solely on romance. Above all else, these sisters are friends. I really loved witnessing their dynamic and the way it morphs throughout the book, first when Margot leaves and then when she comes back, and the way the sisters' identities shift simultaneously. Ugh. It's hard to talk about this book in the defined way I usually write my reviews because everything is tied together. That's a sign of beautiful and technically proficient writing on Jenny's behalf, but dang! This paragraph was supposed to be the one about how fun this book was, and I'm already on identity! But srsly, so much fun. Everything from Halloween to Christmas cookies, estate sales to morning car rides was entertaining. It was sweet and enjoyable and just...fun. Fun to read and fun to imagine doing.

I found Lara Jean to be a likable and relatable character, and yeah, it's really cool that she represents a different race and ethnicity than me.  I love all her quirks. Lara Jean is a unique character not just because she's half-Korean, but because she's simply a unique character and she has a fresh new voice, one that is different from any other I've read before. Her voice is not very similar to my own, but I found I still enjoyed it because she owns her oddities, even as a shy girl. Hence the liking and the relating. Lara Jean is the kind of mc that makes me root for her. You go, Lara Jean! Do your thing, girl!

To All the Boys is one of those books that everyone will use to spearhead talks about diversity, and that's because it's handled well. And by handled well, I mean Lara Jean's Korean mother and her culture is not ignored, but it isn't shoved around like Jenny was trying to Make A Point and turn this into an Issues Book. It's treated normally, which it absolutely should be! It's like, yeah, Lara Jean is half-Korean and she also likes vintage clothes and cowgirl cookies. NBD.

I really love the key group of supporting characters in To All the Boys: Margot, Kitty, the dad, Josh, and Peter. It's small, intimate, but it's realistic and keeps focus on those primary relationship. AND HALLELUJAH, a parent in a ya book! *does a happy dance* I mean, he's still kinda clueless, which is really what most fathers of teenage girls are (and kinda should be because reasons), but just the fact that he's around is awesome. To be very honest, I had no idea Peter would play such a monumental role. I honestly thought this book would be about how Lara Jean and Josh broke the cardinal rule of sisterhood and got together. I am happy to say I was surprised in a very pleasant way. I still love Josh, but there's something very special about Lara Jean and Peter's odd fake-but-not-really-fake-at-all relationship. It's tender and sweet and weird and insane, but it works. Also, the kissing is fantastic when it happens. No spoilers so I'll just say I'm very excited to see what Lara Jean does with her many epiphanies in PS I Still Love You.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before has a lot going on, and I think Jenny channeled the madness beautifully. There are boys and sisters and ugly rumors and breakups and stolen kisses and fake kisses and stolen letters and fake relationships and a dead mom and ski trips and somehow, the story is not overwhelmed by it all. I was deeply touched by this book, even while I had fun reading it. Here's to hoping book two is just as great!

Book Links:
 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg  photo 111AD205-AA04-4F9E-A0F4-C1264C4E9F30-1855-000001A1E8CEB6D7_zps9b730b94.jpg  photo KoboIcon_zps515cdc1a.jpg  photo B1426D4C-9EEC-4C0B-A1FB-90524B03C0CA-1855-000001A1E82B3B3E_zps17d98f4d.jpg

About the Author:
Jenny Han was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. She has worked at a children's bookstore selling books and at a school library lending books, and now she spends all her free time just writing them. She is the young adult author of the New York Times bestselling The Summer I Turned Pretty series as well as the co-authored Burn for Burn series. For a younger audience, she has written Shug, Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream, and the upcoming Princess Petal books. Her books have been published in 17 different languages. She lives in New York City.

Author Links:
   

6 comments:

  1. I definitely thought this book was going to be more about the letters and less about Josh and Peter specifically... but I was okay with that because I thought this book was super adorable. I agree with you, it was a very cute and funny book. I can't wait for the next one :)

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  2. This one is on my TBR list. I haven't read her other books yet, either, but they all sound good. Thanks for the post. :)

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  3. I'll be honest, I was absolutely looking forward to reading this book. I wanted to like it much more than I did. I just didn't fall in love with it like the Summer series, which is one of my favorites. I'm absolutely reading the next one. This just didn't speak to me as much as the Burn for Burn series did either.

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  4. Great review! :)
    Looking forward to read :)

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  5. Thanks for the review! I was skeptical about this book.

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  6. I've been thinking of reading this but hadn't made up my mind. You've persuaded me!

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