Published by Scholastic on August 7, 2014
Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. One for every boy she's ever loved. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say 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...
The To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before books are the first Jenny Han books I’ve read, and I have to admit I’m in love. I don’t know if I’ve read any other book that feels so real. Like the reader is peeking into Lara Jean’s life. There are so many mundane everyday moments mixed in with the heady, sometimes explosive feelings of adolescence. I don’t know how she does it, but the books don’t drag, and they don’t feel melodramatic or forced either. I found them so completely relatable.
Maybe my favorite part is the layered personalities of all the characters, especially Lara Jean and Peter. In that layering, neither is perfect, which makes it all the more enjoyable. Lara Jean scrapbooks, bakes, spends time with her family, doesn’t drink, or swear, or sleep around. She doesn’t have a lot of friends, she cares about her grades, and works hard in school. Lara Jean is not cool. And she doesn’t want to be. She is true to herself and asserts herself in a refreshing way. But she also isn’t perfect; she has fears, struggles, and makes mistakes. Growing up isn’t always easy, but seeing it through Lara Jean’s eyes was completely entertaining.
My 12-year-old daughter didn’t really like Peter. I think that’s because he acted like a regular teenager. He said and did the wrong things; he didn’t always chase Lara Jean, or do the romantic thing—although he did sometimes. He had his own feelings, his own agenda, and his own needs. And I loved him for it. Peter is a handsome, popular, vain lacrosse player. But he’s loyal, kind, and thoughtful. He loves his mom and Lara Jean. Watching as he and Lara Jean navigated their frequently at odds personalities was enjoyable, especially watching as they steered through and around these obstacles; it allowed a deep love to grow.
These quiet books feel real. They are a funny, sweet, and thoughtful way to experience high school again.
A favorite quote:
But then I think, no, I wouldn’t five up twelve, thirteen, sixteen, seventeen with Peter for the world. My first kiss, my first fake boyfriend, my first real boyfriend. The first boy who ever bought me a piece of jewelry. Stormy would say that that is the most monumental moment of all. She told me that that’s how a boy lets you know that you’re his. I think for us it was the opposite. It’s how I knew he was mine.