Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved BeforeTitle: To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys #1)
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Genre/Age Group: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: Purchased
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 4 Stars

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.

my thoughts

I wish I could write my review of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before with smiley faces, hearts and exclamation points. It’s one of the cutest YA contemps I’ve read so far this year, and I couldn’t stop smiling when I finished it. I had an issue with the likability of a couple of the characters, but Han’s character development is amazing, and she is obviously a master storyteller, because she completely changed my mind about them by the end of the book!

Lara Jean, the main character and narrator of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, was very immature in the beginning. She is the middle daughter, self-absorbed and spoiled, thriving on attention from her father, her older sister Margot, and little sister Kitty. Plus, at 16, going on 17, she didn’t like to drive and wanted someone to chauffer her everywhere she went. Since I was so annoyed by Lara Jean, I couldn’t relate to her at first, and to be honest, I wasn’t very invested in her story. For a split second, I even considered setting the book aside because I couldn’t stand reading from such an immature point-of-view. However, I’m glad I hung in there because I learned a very important lesson: never doubt Jenny Han’s writing and character development!

The character growth in this book is amazing.  We learn that the girls’ mom died when they were very young, so the oldest sister, Margot, had to take care of Lara Jean and Kitty for a lot of years. In fact, I perceived that Margot was a lot like a mother to the girls, especially since their father was often at work. When Margot moves (very far) away to college, Lara Jean finds herself thrown into Margot’s former role: caring for her little sister Kitty and helping their father out around the house. It’s an extremely difficult job for Lara Jean at first, since she’s so accustomed to being pampered, but she quickly settles into a routine and actually matures a lot when she no longer has Margot to do everything for her. It was so heartwarming to see Lara Jean grow into such a responsible adult who not only takes care of Kitty but also loves her unconditionally. She’s actually very good for her little sister because she teaches her some responsibility (although Margot chastised Lara Jean for being too hard on Kitty when she came home from college for the first time).

So, it sounds as if the family aspect is the main story in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, right? Well, wrong. No contemporary would be complete without a little romance (at least in my opinion… y’all know how much I like those kissy scenes!).  Jenny Han did not disappoint me, because she gave us a delightful story about two people falling in love. But muwahahahaha, I’m not telling you which two characters fall in love because there are a couple of guys who end up vying for Lara Jean’s attention. ;)

There is a bit of tension between Margot and Lara Jean because of the fact that Margot dated Josh, Lara Jean’s longtime crush. Margot broke up with him right before she left for college, but because Lara Jean is afraid to confess her feelings to him, she writes a letter instead. She puts it in a box under her bed, along with other letters written to other “crushes” that she’s had over the years. She never planned to actually mail the letters, but, oops, somehow they end up in the mail. When Josh reads his, things get awkward, so LJ enlists Peter (her first kiss) to be her “boyfriend.” Lara Jean and Peter are both hoping to make someone else jealous, so this fake relationship benefits both of them, and they start spending a lot of time together to make the relationship seem authentic. I absolutely love the “fake relationship” storyline, because usually with this storyline the two characters end up realizing that they want to be with each other (I won’t tell you if this happens here!). I was so delighted when I realized that it was going to be a large part of this book’s plot, and I loved watching Lara Jean realize what, or who, she really wants.

The only thing about this book that I ended up disliking? That there is going to be a sequel! I WANTED TO KNOW WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN RIGHT THEN. Aaaah! Jenny Han, that is a very evil thing to do to your readers. Haha, just kidding, I actually loved it because the ending left me with my mouth hanging open! I can’t wait to find out what happens to these characters and how they evolve in the next book. I’m sure that P.S. I Still Love You will be equally great!

memorable quotes

“Firsts are best because they are beginnings.”

“To belong to someone—I didn’t know it, but now that I think about it, it seems like that’s all I’ve ever wanted. To really be somebody’s, and to have them be mine.” 

“When someone’s been gone a long time, at first you save up all the things you want to tell them. You try to keep track of everything in your head. But it’s like trying to hold on to a fistful of sand: all the little bits slip out of your hands, and then you’re just clutching air and grit. That’s why you can’t save it all up like that. Because by the time you finally see each other, you’re catching up only on the big things, because it’s too much bother to tell about the little things. But the little things are what make up life.”

Ellice has been blogging at Paper Riot since 2013. She is a librarian, book lover and Southern belle who loves sweet tea, animals, football and books with kissy scenes in them. You will mostly find her fangirling over contemporary books.

8 Responses to “Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”

  1. I can’t decide if I want to read this book. I’ve heard good things, but I’m nervous about how immature Lara Jean is in the beginning. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to stick with the book.

    I’m glad you stuck with it, though, and ended up loving it.

  2. Shania says:

    I’ve heard so many good things about this book, everyone seems to love it! I may have to pick it up in the near future.

  3. Farah says:

    aww this book DEFINITELY sounds so cute!! i’m glad that although Lara Jean seemed immature at first, you still kept reading!! I’m so excited to pick this one! Great review!
    – Farah @ MajiBookshelf

  4. Amy says:

    I really like your memorable quotes excerpt. I’ve only recently started doing that myself – mostly to save my books from being written in…. I know, I’m a monster.

  5. I liked the sound of this book but never went for it because I don’t like to read contemporaries too much. I think that if I picked it up and saw the protagonist being a brat, I’d stop reading soon enough. Glad I read your review now so I know what to expect when I start it.
    Because I want to. It does sound cute and it’s pretty original, so I might just get to it one day! :)

  6. I didn’t know this was going to be a series! Oh no.

    I really want to read it though. I still need to finish Han’s Summer series, because I was really enjoying those when I was reading them a few years ago. Her Burn for Burn series with Siobhan Vivian though skdhfkishgkshg EXCELLENT BOOKS.

  7. Anj Garcia says:

    I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time now because people are raving about it. And this is actually my first time reading a review of TATBILB. Your post really convinces me to buy the book! The story sounds so good and i want to read more YA, Contemporary so i’m adding this on my to-buy list. Great review, btw. :)

  8. Nina says:

    Well, normaly I don’t read contemporary, reall, but I like this cover >_> I have read reviews and they say is a fluffy read and lovely, but it’s a series >_> I don’t know xD

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