To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – REVIEW
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?
Sixteen-year-old 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.
“I wonder what it’s like to have that much power over a boy. I don’t think I’d want it; it’s a lot of responsibility to hold a person’s heart in your hands.”
Since the casting announcement for the upcoming film, I’ve heard a lot about this book. I’ve also seen it mentioned frequently on Instagram and Litsy, always with great reviews. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for me. I can see why other people love this book but I just didn’t connect with it. The main issue I had was the frustrating main character of Lara Jean. Her naivety and immaturity seemed at odds with her age and the intended book audience. Lara Jean came across as years younger than sixteen and some of the things she believed or said didn’t seem plausible. I just wanted to shake her.
“Margot would say she belongs to herself. Kitty would say she belongs to no one. And I guess I would say I belong to my sisters and my dad, but that won’t always be true.”
A lot of the other characters were dislikeable too. Margot was abrasive and cruel at times, and I didn’t understand why everyone seemed to worship her as some sort of paragon. I did like Kitty though. She was the most interesting and independent character. The other thing I found irritating was the falling-in love-whilst-pretending-to-date trope. I just don’t find it interesting. A lot of Peter and Lara Jean’s problems could have been quickly solved by actually communicating too.
“You’d rather make up a fantasy version of somebody in your head than be with a real person.”
I did love the portrayal of a sisterly relationship. It rang true to life, especially when describing how they know the best way to wound each other yet always find their way back to being sisters. As one of four sisters, this is definitely true. I feel terrible writing a review like this but I would like to emphasise that I’m definitely in the minority here. I think the intended audience of 13+ would appreciate this book a lot more than I did and would be more forgiving of Lara Jean’s immaturity.
This book might not have been for me but so many others love it so please try it.
|About the Author
Jenny Han is the New York Times bestselling author of Shug, The Summer I Turned Pretty series, co-author of the Burn for Burn series, and most recently, the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy. She is a former children’s bookseller and children’s librarian. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.