:: author:: Jenny Han :: published: 2014 :: my rating: 3/5 :: genre: novel :: romance novel :: contemporary :: goodreads
Hello my lovely friends!
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This book has been on my TBR list for a while, due to the plethora of amazing reviews about this book. Furthermore, after learning that it was a book based on a Korean-American family, I immediately included it in my eBook haul. I know many of you have read this book, but I can’t wait to share my thoughts on why this book doesn’t deserve the five stars I wanted to give it with you 🙂
(Since many of you have read this book, I have included a few could-be-spoilers. None divulge main plot twists or details. Read on at your own risk.)
Synopsis from goodreads:
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.
The aspect about this book that I loved was how relateable and realistic Lara Jean (the main character) was. Her struggle with finding love, and maneuvering through relationships, though often immature, were still always in character. I appreciated how Jenny Han included dialogue that was not only there to fill up space, but to provide insight into each personality and really develop each character into something real.
However, there were aspects of this book that made me question the hype.
- There didn’t seem to be any TRUE romance throughout the book. Especially because the relationship that permeated throughout the book was simply one that was supposed to be fake. I felt as if the various relationships presented in this book served to show Lara’s development. Although the majority of this book was devoted to her interaction with boys, I felt as if no real spark was found between any of them.
- I disliked how each sister seemed to have a romantic interest in their older sister’s significant other. Sure, it’s better to like your sister’s boyfriend, but not to crush after him… And mutually, if you’re dating someone, please don’t crush on her younger sister.. That’s just so, wrong…
Each character is the typical archetype of a middle class family dealing with some sort of problem. In this case, it’s the death of a mother. Starting with the typical overworked father who loves his daughters and is always trying to find ways to give them the love and attention they deserve while trying to figure them out. I loved the attention and effort this father put into raising his family of three girls. Then there’s Margot, the oldest, most mature responsible and organized sister. She is the one who has kept the family together and running smoothly, and it is her departure that throws this book into motion. Kitty is the youngest of the group, and naturally plays one of the most vital (and predictable) parts in this story. Lastly, we have Lara Jean. The protagonist of this story.
Lara Jean is a sheltered, romantic teen trying to make it through the most important years of high school. Not only is she facing the hardships of exceeding her sister’s footsteps, but she has an issue with not ever truly expressing her feelings for others, but rather, choosing to lock them away in a box. In a way, I appreciated this side of Lara, as I found myself being able to relate to her inability to open up and share how she felt with others.
Then of course, we need to add in a troubled friend who always sticks up for the main character. Chris is the typical “this is not a phase mom” character who helps Lara through her difficult times. To thicken the plot, we add Genevieve, the beautiful, flawless mean girl who adds drama to the story. And her perfect boyfriend, Peter, who enters Lara Jean’s life with a lot of emotional baggage.
Although the characters were not very unique and this story was lacking in that department, the plot was very unique. There were times I really had to wonder what was going to happen next, and what choice Lara Jean was going to make. I was also constantly curious as to how each character would react to the actions of others. Because the characters are quite archetypal, I thought I would be able to predict how each of them reacted… Surprisingly, my conjectures were proved false.
Although these small aspects of the plot really made the book, I failed to find much romance. As stated before, I felt as if this book explored more of Lara’s development through failed relationships. When before, Lara measured her ability and worth against her sister Margot, we see her beginning to break free of that. I believe that was the best part of the book, and what made it so readable/relateable.
This book was a light, fun read that I did finish in one sitting. It was hard to put down, and although there were parts that I wish had been dealt with better, I found myself really enjoying this quirky fun romance. *SPOILER* I was disgusted by how Lara so easily cheated on her sisters boyfriend. Especially after she learned that they had had sex. *SPOILER* All in all, I wish that she had taken more control over her own life, although from my own personal experiences, I can relate to how difficult that could be.
This book was definitely a fun read, but I can’t give it the five star rating that I want to give it for the above reasons. Although I can’t say that I agreed and loved the book 100%, I will be reading the sequel as I have to know how Lara ends up!
“I do this to feign confidence, because the more I fake it, the more it’s supposed to feel true.”
So, this is me all the time, and it really works! Sort of like the smiling theory that if you force yourself to smile, you’ll become happier.
“It’s scary when it’s real. When it’s not just thinking about a person, but, like having a real live person in front of you, with , like, expectations. And wants.”
Love is a hard concept to grasp, and I think that often we read or watch stuff about it and think we know what love is. That we have a tangible definition only to find that explanation falling apart when we actually fall in love.
“A hundred years ago eighteen-year-old guys were out there fighting wars with bayonets and holding a man’s life n their hands! They lived a lot of life by the time they were our age. What do kids our age know about love and life”
This was said by Peter, and I just had to agree. Context is such a vital part in creating expectations.
Have you read any books by Jenny Han? What do you think about the book? Have you ever written any love letters yourself? Let me know in the comments below 🙂