Title/Author: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
(To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before #1)
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Multicultural Fiction, Family/Siblings
Published: April 15th, 2014 by Simon and Schuster BFYR
Hardcover, 355 pages
How I Got This Book: Checked it out from the library
Why I Picked It Up?: While I wasn’t the biggest fan of Han’s Summer trilogy, this book looked and sounded really good. So I wanted to give it a try!
Book Jacket Blurb: “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.”
This book had me at the premise. Because, honestly, who hasn’t written a letter to a boy (or girl) that they loved before?
Lara Jean has a small collection of letters that she keeps safe in a box. These letters express her feelings when her feelings for them end. Each letter served as a way for her to get some closure with her crushes (none of whom ever knew she liked them). But when these letters are accidentally mailed out, Lara Jean’s life spirals out of control, and that’s when she starts learning how to be herself.
I will admit: I have written my share of Dear Andrew and Dear Michael letters myself. So immediately I connected with Lara Jean on a deeper level than I typically do with characters. I remember high school, I remember how difficult it was to have crushes, and I remember how much it hurt when those crushes went for someone else. So the emotional ride is realistic and true, and her character grows and learns and stretches in ways that she didn’t see coming. I have never really found my high school self in a character before, but Lara Jean is my YA spirit twin.
It’s funny, because in class tonight we were talking about how Young Adult books need to be written so that teenagers know that they are not alone. They need to be able to find a book that mirrors their own lives, to let them know that they aren’t the only ones. Because if there is a story like theirs, then that HAS to mean that other teenagers feel the same way. Honestly, I wish this book had been around when I was in high school. I think I would have found a lot of comfort knowing that maybe there were more Lara Jean’s out there, just like me.
What else is special about this novel? This story really focuses on sibling relationships, specifically sisters. Lara Jean’s older sister, Margot, is going off to college, leaving Lara Jean and their younger sister, Kitty, with their father. I really loved how this story really develops this older sibling goes to college story line in such an intimate way. I actually haven’t found that many realistic fiction stories that focus on sibling relationships impacted by a big change like moving away for school, and I really loved how central that was to the novel-development. It allowed for each sibling to struggle and grow through this new change to the family.
I really love this book for the things above, but the romance is the whipped cream on top of the sundae. The romantic relationships in this story develop out of necessity, and they are so touching and realistic. This is one of those stories where you, as the reader, are more in tune with Lara Jean’s feelings than she is. As Lara Jean tries to prevent the letter delivery from ruining her life, she accidentally finds something that makes her happy. The romantic parts of this story only add to Lara Jean’s character development, which just makes me love this story even more.
I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I just LOVED this story. And the sequel, P.S. I Still Love You, is slated to come out in April 2015. I am really excited for that one, I must say!
And while I read this book, I think it would make a great audiolisten, too! I may try and listen to it before the sequel comes out.
My Bookshelf Rating:
A Fourth Shelf Book!
From the get go, this story is intimate and inviting for the reader. Han brings us right into the Song family, into the intricacies of a cultural single-parent home. I loved how personal this story was, how we are able to see Lara Jean’s character develop and grow over the course of the novel. This is an emotional, “hits home” story that will make you smile, laugh, swoon, and tear up. Real emotions, real story, real life. That’s what I love seeing in a realistic fiction story! 4.5 beautiful stars.
Love and Iceland,