Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Summary: 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 every boy she’s 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.
For a couple of years now I’ve heard all sorts of hype about Jenny Han’s contemporary trilogy The Summer I Turned Pretty and somehow I’ve just never gotten around to reading the series. So when To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was released and I heard bloggers talking about it, I knew I needed to pick it up to see what all the fuss was about. I’ve been in a serious contemporary mood lately and this book was exactly what I was looking for. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean who is in her late teens and has a pretty non-existent love life. She is the middle child of three sisters. Her older sister, Margot, is a bit of a perfectionist and is preparing to go off to college in Scotland. Kitty is her younger sister who is nine and truly needs her sisters as their mother died when Kitty was young and she was raised with Margot and Lara Jean as her female role models.
Lara Jean has never kissed a boy and has never pursued the feelings that she has. When she feels that she is “over it” and needs to let go of her current crush or love, she writes him a letter. Not a letter to mail out to them so that they are aware of her feelings, or a love letter that professes her undying love for them, but a letter where she has the ability to be completely and gut-wrenchingly honest. She can delve into every emotion that she has and write it out and to rid herself of those feelings. Then she seals it up in the hat box that her mother gave to her. However, everything goes awry when somehow the five letters that she has written to boys are mailed out to them.
One of the things that I loved the most about this book – although it’s hard to focus on just one or two things – was the family aspect. As a family they were absolutely amazing and realistic. Since their mother died when they were all young, Margot took over the role of organizer with a primary goal of making it as easy as possible for their father to raise the three of them. However when Margot jets off to Scotland for college Lara Jean’s role in the household changes from middle child to the eldest with its own host of new responsibilities. I loved the flashbacks and moments that looked back at their Chinese heritage that they tried to keep alive, though mostly through food. They were a wonderful family and I LOVED them.
I found Lara Jean to be largely comical and just a really fun, yet flawed, character. The romantic entanglements and storyline are great—and I’m grateful that the synopsis doesn’t give more away because I had a lot of fun discovering. Who were the five boys? What would their role be in her life? It’s better to find out once you’ve been thrown into this amazing world that Jenny Han has built. I did have a moment of ‘what the heck??’ at the end because seriously, who ends a standalone like that? And then I found out that there would be a sequel which has calmed my emotions— at least a little bit. I can now say I am a Jenny Han fan and will anxiously await the sequel. In the meantime, I will happily read her trilogy.