To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
April 15, 2014
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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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.
First sentence: “I like to save things.”
This book sounded cute in theory, but what I got was a lot of frustration that continued to build over time. I swear this book was testing my patience.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before follows a sheltered Lara Jean whose life changes when her sister goes away to university in Scotland and her love letters to every boy she’d ever liked are mysteriously mailed out. With her life suddenly out of control, she has to navigate the world by trusting her heart with the help of Peter Kavinsky, one of the boys who received her letter. And along the way, she learns more about what it’s like growing up and being in a relationship.
Guys, I don’t love this book. It gave me such a headache because oh my god, Lara Jean’s voice was sooo frustrating, and all the guys playing tug and war with Lara Jean grated on my nerves because she’s not a toy. She can decide for herself what she wants!
Seven Things I Would Tell Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
- You sound like a twelve year old.
That’s the most jarring thing about this book. Lara Jean sounds so much younger than a sixteen year old, and it bothers me sooo much. About 90% of the time, I kept thinking, “are you twelve? How are you not twelve? Why do you speak like this? What sixteen year old sounds like this?” Yes, I know that Lara Jean is sheltered, but I don’t think a sheltered sixteen year old would sound like this.
I think I would’ve been fine with her voice if she hadn’t referred to her mom as “mommy.” (What sixteen years old says “mommy”? Did you?) That word essentially set the tone of the entire book; I read Lara Jean as a twelve year old, and reading her like that made her seem extremely out of place—both in characterization and age. It didn’t help that Lara Jean is an incredibly sheltered character.
Start living for yourself.
Lara Jean’s entire life has been a standstill. She’s spent her life concerned about the affairs of others, always accommodating what her family wants, that she never seems to live completely for herself. It’s not a bad thing, but she’s got to have some space to let herself develop and grown. When Margot leaves for university and Lara Jean’s love letters are sent, Lara Jean begins carving a life that’s outside her family. And I’m just going GO ON, GIRL. LIVE YOUR LIFE.
- You and Kavinsky are a good match.
I am rooting for Lara Jean and Kavinsky! You know why? Because they match each other so well. They’re like opposites, but they balance each other so well. Kavinsky gets Lara Jean out of her safe bubble and really challenges her to live for herself. And Lara Jean keeps Kavinsky grounded and doesn’t take his bullshit. It’s such a give and take relationship, and it’s so wonderful to see. I just wanted more!
Plus, Kavinsky is wonderfullllll. His interactions with Lara Jean are the best. They are the cute and sweet I was looking for.
- Be good to your sisters.
Not that Lara Jean isn’t. When it comes to Margot, Lara Jean idolizes her, but Kitty (the younger sister)…is sort of the odd one out. Lara Jean should know what little sisters are capable of when they get angry, and that’s how everything gets set in motion. But what sibling relationship doesn’t have their fair share of fights? Sometimes, you gotta be the bigger person and apologize for going too far. Be a good role model.
- Tell Josh to fuck off.
FUCK OFF, JOSH.
He’s the worst. I’m sure you can tell I’m not Josh’s biggest fan. Josh is the boy next door, Margot’s ex-boyfriend, and one of the boys Lara Jean’s love letter was sent to. Dude is fucking dull and annoying and overbearing and just GET A FUCKING LIFE. When he appears, my anger whip through me so fast. Every time you see him, he has a sad puppy dog look on his face, which isn’t cute, and he always has some opinion about what’s right for Lara Jean even though it’s not his fucking business. Stop barging in! Stop holding Lara Jean back! You can’t root for this dude. If you like him or root for him, I’m judging you. Did I say he’s the worst? Because he is. He’s the worst.
I’m not convinced of your friendship with Chris.
Lara Jean’s friendship with Chris is such a weird one. They are such an odd pair. Lara Jean is well, she’s sheltered and a “good” girl who likes staying home and hanging with her family, and Chris stays out late and constantly comes in and out of Lara Jean’s life like a drifter. It somehow works for them, but it doesn’t work for me. Even though I’m told about how they became friends, I’m not convinced that their friendship is genuine. It doesn’t help that Chris drifts in and out of the book and disappears, not giving me enough time to examine the two of them together. I wanted to see more of their interaction and more of what they have to offer in their friendship.
- You don’t know everything.
Like any teenager, they think they know everything, but of course, they don’t. Lara Jean acts like a know-it-all—in the affairs of her sister’s relationship with Josh and the romance department—when she’s missing key information and life experience. It gets frustrating, but Lara Jean has to grow, so it’s best that she learns from her mistakes.
I wished I loved you, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but you just weren’t for me. You caused so much “UGHHHHHHHHHH” and “fuck offs” to emerge from my mouth. Kavinsky nearly saved this book, but not enough. I’m just not a fan of main characters that don’t sound their age and romantic interests being assholes. They were a deal breaker. Just no. I just couldn’t handle my frustration and pent up anger.
Amber @ YA Indulgences says
I completely agree with you. Lara’s voice was really annoying and I couldn’t believe she was sixteen. The “mommy” thing completely killed me because it sounds like something some wealthy teen who always gets her way would say. I loved Margot, Kitty and Peter though. Josh annoyed me with his behavior. Like guy, she’s not your business. Back off. She’s in a relationship. He was so annoying.
I loved Kitty and Peter’s scenes. I thought Chris’ friendship with Lara was weird too. I know opposites attract, but I don’t like extreme opposites like this. I can’t picture Lara hanging out with Chris being as sheltered as she is. I hated how Chris was barely in the book but they’re supposed to be best friends.
Chloe @ YA Booklover Blog says
I agree with this review so much…. Lara Jean seemed like she was so much younger than she was. I read this book this year, and I’m 17, so I figure she should act somewhat like me, but she seems more like someone I’d babysit. And none of the boys particularly grabbed my interest, probably because I didn’t care about Lara Jean or who she ended up with. The whole thing just annoyed me a lot!!
Georgie @ What She Reads says
This was one book that I didn’t get around to starting this year and honestly the only review I’ve read of it. It does sound rather frustrating, I mean “Mommy”? I’m definitely going to go into this book a little guarded now, hopefully I’ll enjoy it a bit more than you. *Fingers Crossed*.
Morgan @ Gone with the Words says
I actually really liked this book but I can see why you were frustrated. It took me awhile to get used to (and not annoyed by) Lara Jean’s young sounding voice. I thought Kitty sounded older than her at times! Confession: I called my mom “Mommy” for a long time, even as a young adult, but I always referred to her as “my mom” outside of our own house. Lara Jean probably should have done that, it would have made her sound more her age. And yesss I loved Peter, hated Josh. Sorry you didn’t like the book more! :/
aw, I’m sorry you didn’t like this book! I read reviews talking about how Lara Jean sounded like a baby so I was v prepared for the “young” voice and was actually surprised it didn’t bother me at all. She really worked for me. I def know what you mean about the “Mommy” bit though.
Normally I like Jenny Han’s writing, I really like her The Summer I Turned Pretty series because to me it seemed that she kept it real to all the immature and childish crap that we all do but during her series they do grow up even when you want to smack them. I’ll probably read this one later :P but more carefully than normal haha. I really liked your review by the way, it really made me laugh!
Terri @ Reading By Starlight says
I thought the same. Referring to her mom as “mommy” really grated on me as I went on through the book. I just had more problems with the book in terms of Han’s choices, like sending Margot off to college so far away. You can prove your bravery or whatever at least within the same country. A parental death would, in my mind, make me want to stay closer to my brothers because I’d need them so much more. I wouldn’t want them to prove that we could all get through it by leaving me. Just never made sense.
Also, in the 6 months since I read this book, I have forgotten 90% of what happened. All that stuff I said above? I had to go back to my review and refresh myself on what annoyed me about the book. Maybe it was me and maybe it was the book, but this one has not stuck with me like at ALL.