To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published: April 15
Genre: young adult
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?
Lara Jean 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.
Lara Jean Song Covey has found a way to get over her loves quickly and efficiently: write them a love letter, seal it in an envelope, and hide it in her mother’s hatbox. By writing to them, she can let out all her feelings without the embarrassment of admitting them. Except when somehow the letters are delivered, and the boys come forward with their questions…
This book was hilarious, awkward, quirky, and touching. While the premise of the book suggests a love story, at the heart it’s about growing up, facing fears, and finding independence. Lara Jean is very close to her sisters Kitty and Margot — it’s just them and their father; their mother passed away several years ago. Margot’s going to college in Scotland, and since she’s been the surrogate mother to Lara Jean and Kitty, Lara Jean is concerned she’ll never live up to Margot’s image and standards. She has difficulty fulfilling the role of Big Sister to Kitty, she’s scared of doing things without Margot and her approval, and she’s always concerned with what Margot would think or say in a situation. As the novel progresses, Lara Jean becomes less concerned on the idea of Margot and simply misses her sister’s companionship. It’s so remarkable, how close and loving this family is, that it warmed my heart.
Another facet I liked about Lara Jean is her honest narration, her true-to-life insecurities, her racing thoughts, her pounding heart, her fight-or-flight rash decisions when Margot’s ex Josh and Lara Jean’s old friend Peter come forward with their letters. The whole situation with Josh and Peter heightens the hilarity and brings out Lara Jean’s quirks. The interactions they have with her family, their eagerness for her to share Korean food, the ways in which they want to protect her innocence or expose her to new experiences is beautiful to watch.
Thank goodness Han has a sequel planned! While the ending of this book would allow the reader decide what Lara Jean plans to do with her final letter, I felt her story with her family and the boys she’s loved just wasn’t over yet. I’m so excited to see what’s in store for her!
2 thoughts on “Book Review: “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han”
Just finished this today, and it actually really surprised me! I expected a very specific ending, and I was pleased that Jenny Han took it another (more complicated and way more fun) direction. Also -!!! That quote about belonging is the same quote I have planned to use in my review (hoping I get to that soon!). It stood out to me as soon as I read it – I even took a picture of the page so I wouldn’t forget to add it. 🙂
Great review, Laura!
I was expecting this to be a standalone, and it works just fine as one too — yet, the ending is also hanging. So…thank goodness for a sequel soon!
So many quotes in this book spoke to me/my teenage self. It was astounding.