Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Fiction/ Romance/ YA
Source: Kindle Store
Favourite Quote: “It’s scary when it’s real. When it’s not just thinking about a person, but, like, having a real live person in front of you with expectations.”
Lara Jean is a 16 year old girl who has been in love five times. Josh Sanderson, Peter Kavinsky, John Ambrose McClaren, Kenny from camp and Lucas Krapf. Not that she would ever admit her feelings to them, or anyone but herself. She also knows that love can be fleeting, even if it’s just for a moment at a dance or running with someone in the rain. To help her get past her feelings Lara Jean writes each boy a letter, a letter they will never see as it’s just a way to get her thoughts and emotions out on paper. A way to accept how they truly make her feel and how it could never come to be something more. The letters are then stored in her mums old hat box in the top of her closet, never to be seen by anyone. Ever.
So when Peter approaches her at school one day with a letter in his hand, her entire world turns upside down. All of her crazy heartfelt unsuppressed feelings in the hands of Peter Kavinsky himself. How did he get the letter? Who else knows? Most importantly, was it the only letter that escaped?
‘This isn’t happening. This isn’t reality. I’m dreaming. I’m in my room and I’m dreaming and Peter Kavinsky is in my dream, glaring at me. I close my eyes. Am I dreaming? Is this real?
I open my eyes. I’m not dreaming, and this is real. This is a nightmare. Peter Kavinsky is holding my letter in his hand. It’s my handwriting, my envelope, my everything.’
Well, I can honestly say, it isn’t everyday that I prefer the film over the book. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the story, it was different and unique for a YA teen high school romance. However, the book was lacking some serious emotions that the film was able to bring to life. Especially with Peter.
Lara Jean was an interesting character, she tells the story from her own confessions and perspectives. There are moments when she appears levelheaded and sure of herself, not letting emotions get the better of her, then other times she is so annoying naive and childish, it’s difficult to keep up with her feelings. I guess for a teen romance, it’s to be expected.
At times you weren’t sure where the story was going to lead too with the five letters out in the world for all to see. Lara Jean openly admits that the first person she ever truly loved was Josh, but he’s out of bounds. Or is he?
“Why didn’t you ever say anything? Because, Lara Jean… God. I don’t know.” His eyes are on me, and they’re confused, but there’s something else too. The way he’s looking at me now, I’m suddenly in a time warp back to a summer day when I was fourteen and he was fifteen, and we were walking home from somewhere. He was looking at me so intently I was sure he was going to try to kiss me. I got nervous, so I picked a fight with him and he never looked at me like that again.
Until this moment.”
For someone who would rather spend her weekends baking and watching tv with her sisters, she can’t help but feel a bit overwhelmed pretending to be Peter’s girlfriend and be surrounded by the attention of the school. Being around Peter alone, however, is easy enough since it isn’t real. The more Lara Jean convinces herself of that, the better, since it can’t lead to anything. It’s endearing to see her experience small doses of jealously when she came to realise her feelings for Peter weren’t altogether fake. I still felt like the emotions she expressed were dull and unenthusiastic. It was difficult to believe her feelings for Peter were real on any level. I understand that she didn’t want to admit it to herself, but for a young love, for the reader, it was lacking.
‘It’s starting to make sense to me. Why he’d go along with a scheme like this, why he’d spend his time with someone like me. It’s not so he can move on from Gen. It’s so he can’t. I’m just his excuse. I’m holding Genevieve’s place for her.’
I quite liked Peter, he was a typical popular jock who had the popular girlfriend, sports team, and good looks that had all the girls swoon over him. Even though he sought Lara Jean as a means to make his ex jealous, he didn’t expect to actually come to like her as anything more with Genevieve still on his mind. He plays the pretend boyfriend role a bit too well, even without an audience which I really liked. For Peter, it was sometimes difficult to see who he truly wanted to be with. A hidden emotional battle that he couldn’t admit to himself.
Overall I enjoyed the story but I preferred watching the film in this case. The emotions felt more real in every look and gesture that the book was definitely lacking.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.