Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
Find It: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, Book Depository
Source: Borrowed ARC
First published on Kid Lit Frenzy
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
I just finished this book and I have to say wow, I really liked this a lot more than I thought I would. Though I've heard lots of great things about Jenny Han (I have her Summer series one shelf waiting to be read and have met her and find her think she’s funny and adorable), contemporary YA novels aren't usually my thing and I wasn't sure how I would feel about this. However, the pretty pink cover drew me in and I decided to give it a chance, and I’m so glad I did. To All the Boys is fantastically written, with well developed characters and relationships that make for a standout novel.
It was hard for me to connect with Lara Jean when I first started reading. Her voice is a lot younger and more naive than what I expected of a 16-year-old in a contemporary YA novel. However, as the story progressed and I got into Lara Jean’s head, I found myself really liking her and relating to her in a lot of ways. Lara Jean reminds me a lot of myself at her age. She is quiet and, while not unpopular, is not a part of the cool crowd. She isn't afraid to be herself but she still cares about what people think of her. She's a little naive and is afraid to move outside of her comfort zone. In a landscape littered with cunning teen assassins and snarky mean girls, Lara Jean’s sincerity and earnestness is a refreshing change.
Another thing I loved in the book were the relationships. While I don’t have sisters, the sibling relationship between the Song sisters rang true. No one knows how love you and to hurt you as much as a sibling does. I loved how strong the family ties were and how they supported each other. There is no absentee parenting in this book. I was also happy that there was no insta-love. I am usually pretty wary of love triangles, but it worked here because all of the characters were well developed and I can see why Lara Jean would be drawn to both boys for different reasons.
The book had some good secondary characters as well, the standout for me being Kitty, Lara Jean’s little sister. She reminds me a little bit of Louise Belcher from Bob’s Burgers and I have a feeling that she will be ruling the world one day. It was also nice to see a little diversity in the book with a bi-racial main character.
My only small gripe about this book is that I wish the ending was a longer. It felt a little rushed and wished I’d had a little more resolution. I’ve heard that the finished copy of the book (I read an ARC) has a longer ending though and I am interested in re-reading the ending to see if it provides a little more closure. And good news is that there will be another book! Things were left a little open ended and I am glad to hear that there will be another book in this charming series.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a sweet, quirky coming of age story that will appeal to fans of contemporary YA fiction and romance. Now that I’ve read Jenny Han I can see why her books are so popular and I look forward to reading her backlist.
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.