May 23, 2014

To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

When I write, I hold nothing back. I write like he'll never read it. Because he never will. Every secret thought, every careful observation, everything I've saved up inside me, I put it all in the letter. When I'm done, I seal it, I address it, and I then put it in my teal hatbox. 

-from To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

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In To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Jenny Han creates a colorful cast of characters that reinforce the importance of effectively communicating emotions. Lara Jean has never had a boyfriend, but she's been in love exactly five times. For each boy that she's loved, Lara Jean writes them a love letter and keeps them in her teal hatbox with no intention of ever mailing the letters or telling the boys how she feels. When somehow the letters get mailed out, Lara Jean is confronted by the boys who receive them, which unfortunately includes her sister's old boyfriend, Josh. Without the help of said sister, who has left for college, Lara Jean must learn for herself how to mature emotionally instead of relying on her family alone.

I cannot express how deeply I was able to identify with this book. Much like Lara Jean, I was too afraid of the emotional repercussions of being in a relationship when I was in high school, so instead I sat on the sidelines and found ways to appease my emotions without involving myself with real boys. I never wrote love letters (and if I did, I certainly would not have addressed them!), but I do have many pictures of my friends posing with the boys I "loved" in the background because I wanted a picture to preserve the experience in a similar way (creepy, right?). My best friend Jenna will also tell you that I was obsessed with Hanson because they were distant enough to be safe; but I digress...

Lara Jean, despite her stupidity of addressing those letters (which I think every review I have read has complained about, too), is a very realistic and likable character. In fact, all of the characters in the book are strong and real. I especially appreciated that every character was so dynamic, none were finite, "all good/all bad".  Han's talent for making realistic, enjoyable characters gives an especially strong platform for their interactions with each other which, to me, really made this book a fun and satisfying read.

There were, however, a few things that I felt this novel was lacking and I think everything could have been fixed with stronger editing. Some of the scenes felt like they could have been cut or at least compacted to make for a more concise story. Similarly, I wanted some things fleshed out more, like the boys Lara Jean "loves" who aren't main characters. I also was disappointed that we didn't get to read all of Lara Jean's letters, only a few. I think a good editor might have brought attention to this and how it just made the story feel incomplete. And I know I'm bringing this up a third time, but maybe Lara Jean could have mentioned the necessity of addressing those letters! ;) Maybe in the sequel there will be some mention of that.

Overall, I really enjoyed To All the Boys I've Loved before. It was one of the most fun and refreshing new released I've read this year and I cannot wait to continue Lara Jean's story when the sequel comes out. The ending was a bit abrupt for my liking which makes me almost wish I waited a year to pick this one up! This was the first book I've read by Jenny Han and I am excited to read more of her work!

Bottom Line: If you love romantic YA, this is the book for you! Sweet, emotional and wonderful characterization make this a quick read. I think it could have been combed through by an editor another time or two, but it works. 4/5 Stars.


  1. i can relate to this character too. though i never write a single love letter. i was a bit ignorant too in high school regarding boys. haha,,

  2. I'm so glad you liked this one, too! I feel you on some of the editing and the other characters that got letters! AND THE ADDRESSES omg. But like you I liked it and found the characters realistic! I'm really excited and impatient for the sequel!


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