To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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.
First Sentence: I like to save things.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
As soon as I had heard of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, I was terribly excited for it. The premise of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before sounded unique, creative, full of feels, and most of all, it sounded extremely promising. In fact, just the premise of the book inspired me to maybe write letters to all the guys I’ve loved before (I wonder how that will turn out). However, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before didn’t turn out to be quite what I expected…
First of all, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before did not turn out to be what I expected it to be and I bet none of you will expect it to be what it actually turned out to be too. The whole oh no – my love letters accidentally got sent out to the people I wrote it to! plot only played a small part in the book – about 7% of the book I’ll say. Honestly, I think that love letters plot played an even smaller part in the book than just 7%. I don’t know if I should tell you guys what To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is really about because it is a spoiler in my opinion, but it is also a small spoiler, so I’ll label it with a spoiler tag below.
[MILD] SPOILER: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before basically revolves around a “fake boyfriend” plot. Yeah. I know. Not what you expected huh?
The main character in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before also annoyed me. Lara Jean is sixteen and yet, she acts like she’s thirteen or even twelve years old. Not only does Lara Jean immaturely makes fun of her very younger sister over dumb things, her voice is also so innocent, saying things that a thirteen year old would say. For example, Lara Jean actually thinks “[name] looks at me like I’m a dummy” (ARC 173). That actual thought actually popped up in her head. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure sixteen year olds won’t say that; they’ll definitely use some other word to replace the word “dummy” in that sentence. In fact, the nine year old kids I watch over in my job say that, never mind sixteen year olds.
However, at some moments, Lara Jean acts a little too old for her age, thinking of some things that even I at my current age don’t think of – who thinks of wanting to know something substantial about their crush? To make things even more not believable, Lara Jean was like that before she was even sixteen; I’ll estimate her age to be around fourteen when she wrote about that in one of her letters to a guy she had loved before. I definitely didn’t act like Lara Jean when I was sixteen (and I definitely should remember the way I acted when I was her age since I’m only three years older than sixteen now).
You’re just so mysterious. I hardly know a thing about you. The things I know are so unsubstantial, so unsatisfying, like that you eat a chicken sandwich every day at lunch, and you’re on the golf team. (ARC 156)
The romance plays a major role in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, something I wasn’t sure would happen because the summary of the book gave me the sense that it’s about trying to rise above boys and all that. I’m sad to say that I wasn’t sold on the romance. I felt like I barely knew the love interest even though he was in Lara Jean’s life for the majority of the book. All I know about the love interest is that the guy is a jock, likes Lara Jean’s little sister, needs help with chemistry, and has an ex-girlfriend. I don’t know anything meaningful or even a little bit deep about him. Since I barely know anything substantial about the guy, I can’t root for him and Lara Jean, never mind the fact that I can’t see what she sees in him.
The ending of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before left me feeling a bit meh about the book because I still have some annoyingly unanswered questions that wasn’t answered. In fact, to be honest, the ending of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before left me feeling a bit conflicted about the book and a little mad. However, the lovely Cee from The Novel Hermit told me that the finished copy of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before may have a different ending than the ARC did. After some double-checking (aka tweeting Jenny Han about it), it turns out that that fact was true; the finished copy of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before will indeed have a different ending than the ARC’s ending, including maybe even an extra chapter. All I know is that I’m definitely checking out the finished copy of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, especially if it has a new and different ending. However, I highly doubt that the new ending will erase all my concerns that I have with the ARC’s ending, but there’s always hope that it will.
UPDATE: I found out from you helpful people that To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is part of a duology, so okay, I’m a bit happier about the ending since now, there will be a sequel to explain it all.
Love is scary: It changes; it can go away. That’s part of the risk. I don’t want to be scared anymore. (ARC 352)
Overall, I am disappointed with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Some of my disappointment with the book is not even the book’s fault; it’s just that I had expected the book to be totally different than from how it actually turned out. What it turned out to be also disappointed me because frankly, it doesn’t impress me much.
Do I recommend To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before? Sure, if you don’t mind reading a book with a lacking romance and a character that doesn’t act her age. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a fun contemporary, if you can ignore those two major flaws.