When I read the premise of this book, it sounded like it had all kinds of potential and could go in so many different directions. Jenny Han is such a skilled romance writer that she was able to make even predictable plot developments interesting and refreshing. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” was well written, genuine, and just plain fun. It’s not an “issues” book, but it is amusing and funny and will remind readers of their early crushes. So with school slowly winding down and summer coming upon us, Jenny Han’s latest novel is a great choice to start off the season of leisure reading. –Diana
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.
The very idea of each boy that I ever had a crush on reading about my feelings for him just makes me want to break out in a deep sweat and hide under the nearest rock. That’s what drew me to this story. I can still remember what it felt like to be a teenager with an unrequited crush and I love the way that Han tapped into those feelings through Lara Jean’s predicament.
Shortly after school begins Peter Kavinsky, the “Big Man on Campus” comes up to Lara and when he shows her the letter she wrote about him a couple of years ago, she is mortified. She has no idea how he received the letter. That means there are four other guys who have probably received her letters and one of those boys is Josh, her sister’s boyfriend. Josh is like a member of the family and Lara is horrified at the thought that he knows how she once felt about him.
The letter gives Peter an idea that they could both use to their advantage. Peter has just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and he wants her to take the breakup seriously. Lara doesn’t want Josh to think she still cares for them. So Peter convinces Lara that they should both decide to pretend they’re dating each other. That way his ex-girlfriend and Josh will both realize that they’re over them. Their “fake” relationship’s twists and turns provides much of the humor in the story and what makes it worth reading. Is it the romance to end all romances, no, but you will definitely root for Lara as she and Peter figure out that falling for someone isn’t something you can fake.
“Seventeen’s not so young. A hundred years ago people got married when they were practically our age.”
“Yeah, that was before electricity and the Internet. A hundred years ago eighteen-year-old guys were out there fighting wars with bayonets and holding a man’s life in their hands! They lived a lot of life by the time they were our age. What do kids our age know about love and life?”
“I delete the picture of him from my phone; I delete his number. I think that if I just delete him enough, it will be like none of it ever happened and my heart won’t hurt so badly”
“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.”