Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Scholastic (7th August 2014)
Source: Won on Twitter from @ScholasticUK
Lara Jean’s love life is about to go from imaginary to out of control.
Laura Jean Song keeps love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her – one for every boy she’s ever loved. She can say anything she wants, because the letters are for her eyes only. Until the day they’re sent out . . .
Rating: *** (3 stars)
TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE by Jenny Han is a standalone novel, which follows the story of Lara Jean Song. Lara Jean is the middle sister of three sisters who live with their Dad, their mother died when they were younger. In a hat box gifted to her by her mother, Lara Jean keeps a collection of love letters to boys that she has loved. Then one day the letters that were meant for her eyes only get posted.
There were two things that drew me into giving this book a try. The first was the cover, which I think looks absolutely gorgeous. The second was the title – TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE. It sounded so intriguing; why would you write to all the boys you’ve loved before,and how many is ‘all’? I hadn’t read anything by Jenny Han before, though I had heard of her THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY (and I’d pretty much dismissed it, as I thought the title sounded a bit stereotypical). Going into the book I didn’t know anything apart from the blurb, and that a few of the bloggers I follow had given it pretty high ratings (I didn’t actually read the reviews).
TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE is a cute contemporary romance, and as such is pretty typical for the genre which I found frustrating at times. Although her choices sometimes irked me, I really liked Lara Jean as both the main character and the narrator. I think part of my problem with Lara Jean, and the book too at times, is that I am an only child and therefore don’t quite grasp the complexity of sibling relationships. It also probably didn’t help that I found the whole idea that you would seal and address a letter you didn’t ever want sent to be a bit stupid – because seriously, what are the odds someone isn’t going to be helpful and stick a stamp on them and post them (oh lookie, there’s the plot twist)? Maybe I’m just too cynical.
Han did a good job with the plot of the book, which was as much about the relationship between the sisters – Margot, Lara Jean, and Kitty – as it was about possible romantic relationships and friendships. I have to confess that I really enjoyed the scenes between Lara Jean and Peter, and the way their relationship progressed – though I kinda wish that there had been a clearer ending. I also loved Lara Jean’s friendship with Chris. Chris was an awesome character. The story takes place in about a three month period when Margot goes off for her first term at university in Scotland, and I kinda wish that Han had maybe expanded the time period. I guess what I’m trying to say it that I would have liked to have seen more of the characters and world. Yet, I think the story works quite well as it is.
One of the things I did think was pretty awesome about the book was that Lara Jean and her sisters are half-Korean. I think Han used this element brilliantly through the book, and gave an interesting insight into what it could be like growing up in a half-Korean family. So if you’re looking for a cute contemporary with a little bit of diversity in it, then you should definitely consider checking this book out.