Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
First Published: April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance, Young Adult
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?
Sixteen-year-old 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.
I had been eyeing this series for a while despite the fact that I rarely read YA contemporary romance. I picked up the boxed set on a whim because I had always been interested in the story blurb and the fact that the main character is biracial like me. I’m so glad that I finally picked this up because if it wasn’t for my husband starting to tuck us in for bed at five a.m., I would have devoured this entire book in one sitting. I was hooked.
What would you know about love, Lara Jean?
The story follows a rising junior named Lara Jean, who writes letters to her crushes when she’s ready to move on. She is described as quirky, she isn’t popular but she’s also not unpopular, and she’s never had a boyfriend. Lara Jean is really close to her family, she’s privileged, and she enjoys girly hobbies like scrapbooking, baking, and knitting. A lot of reviewers call Lara Jean immature but many high schoolers ARE immature. I found myself relating to her because I was a lot like her when I was in high school. I had crushes, but I never pursued any of them, I never dated anyone at school like a lot of my friends that had boyfriends all through middle and high school. I felt inexperienced compared to my peers, but it didn’t really bother me.
I also really loved most of the characters, and especially the relationship that Lara Jean has with her sisters, even when they are being obnoxious toward each other. The only thing that I wish would have been better developed would’ve been Lara Jean’s friendship with Chris. They’re close friends, but the friendship didn’t feel fleshed out or authentic to me.
The hook for the story is that somehow, those old good-bye crush letters are sent out, and Lara Jean finds herself confronted with all of those crushes. It is deliciously amusing and a recipe for so much drama, especially when one of those crushes would mean betraying someone close to her. While I didn’t like the pseudo-love triangle with this character, in some ways it was believable. This book has all of the frustrating drama that comes with most teen romance novels, but I didn’t find myself minding in the slightest. The chapters are short and a lot happens in each chapter, and it was nice to just turn my brain off and enjoy the ride.