By: Larissa | May 6, 2014 | (37) Comments

Review: To All of the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny HanTo All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 288
Source: Bought it
Goodreads | Purchase

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.

First off, can we just take a moment to revel in the cover of To All of the Boys I’ve Loved Before? That’s truly what drove me to buy this one from my local bookstore. It’s just so cute!

Sadly this story wasn’t all fluff and cuteness for me despite the cover and the summary. I found quite a few issues with To All of the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

My main quibble was with the main character herself, Lara Jean. I found her narration to be quite simplistic and this was furthered by the undeniable fact that she sounded like she was eleven.  Lara Jean is actually one year behind me in highschool, this becomes an issue when I find her voice to be childish and stiff. I should be able to relate to somebody near the same age as me, however I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at her juvenileness. Lara Jean is the definition of naive and half the time I wanted to yell at her. I found myself eventually getting used to her odd child like ways by the end of the novel, but I would have really appreciated some growth and maturity. There wasn’t much development to her character, the development was mainly with her relationships to other people.

The family aspect of To All of the Boys I’ve Loved Before  was probably one of the strongest parts of this novel. I feel like the three sisters and their father all had a tight knit relationship that felt realistic and it was great to see an example of this in a YA book. There definitely wasn’t any missing family syndrome To All of the Boys I’ve Loved Before.  There was conflict between the sisters but I still loved it, I could definitely see the arguments and issues between the sisters happening in real life. Each of the sisters has their own unique personality and it was interesting to see them all come together as one singular cohesive family unit. Even with them being apart, you could tell the sisters thought very highly of each other and they were an integral part of each other’s lives.

One relationship I couldn’t stand manifested in the form of Josh. He had a very serious relationship with Margot, who was Lara Jean’s sister. They ended up breaking up. This reignited previous feelings that Lara Jean had for Josh. I could understand and forgive these past feelings. The fact that they came back just annoyed me though. The fact that Lara Jean liked Josh felt like a betrayal of the highest degree and I couldn’t honestly see the appeal of Josh whatsoever. He felt very pretentious and judgemental to me. I also couldn’t get behind a character who was so wishy washy. He dated Margot and now that he finds out Lara Jean has feelings for him gets interested. Josh then proceeds to flip flop around a million times. He then decides that he has no feelings for Lara Jean. However he sees Lara Jean with another guy and freaks out in a jealous rage, says that she can do way better (ie himself) and belittles the other man’s intelligence. What angered me the most was how Josh acted like the sisters were all so interchangeable. Oh, Margot broke up with me? Okay, I’ll go cry to Lara Jean and flirt with her. Oh, Lara Jean’s mad at me? I’ll go play with Kitty. Josh was a character I just couldn’t stand and I really don’t think I’ll ever understand Lara Jean’s infatuation with him.

The other love interest, I can definitely get behind. Peter may seem like your stereotypical jock but there’s definitely more to him than meets the eye. I found the way he cared for Lara Jean’s younger sister to be completely endearing. He’s also realistic, in the way he’s not a perfect prince charming. He’s made mistakes and openly admits to them. Peter mouths off to Josh because pretentious lacrosse hating assholes annoy him, which is something I could really agree with. I find that sometimes contemporary YA tends to create love interests that are in no realistic. They can be too perfect or fall into tropes that I really don’t think even exist in real life. Peter to me felt like an actual teenage boy. Though even with his realistic faults, Peter still manages to be quite sweet and understanding. The relationship that developed  between him and Lara Jean was definitely there and something that I could support. It wasn’t insta in anyway and was still developing throughout the entire course of the story. I found myself smiling at their cute moments and wanting more.

The plot summary promises something that would quite honestly be my worst nightmare and be beyond mortifying. I don’t think it delivers on that though, with some of the recipients of the letters moving away and others not being at all involved in Lara Jean’s life.  The majority of them don’t even have a response to the letters. I was expecting and wanting some more conflict from the letters. Still, reading the letter was quite enjoyable and I found them to be actually quite well written and emotional. It was like in the letters Lara Jean was more mature than she actually was as a character.

Something that seemed a bit strange to me is the fact that this isn’t the last book that will chronicle Lara Jean’s romantic issues. There’s going to be a sequel. I personally feel like this isn’t necessary. A few more chapters could have been added into this book and I feel like it would have covered things enough. Instead you get a curveball ending coming from nowhere that definitely takes this series in a different direction than expected at the time. Now that this is a series though, I must see some character development from Lara Jean. She needs to act her age at the very least. I also would like to see more from Peter and more development of him. Of course the family dynamic is something that should remain in the series.

Overall To All of the Boys I’ve Loved Before  is a light beach read. I feel like it does suffer in some of the characters and their development. The family aspect is well done though and so is one of the love interest. I feel like there’s a lot of room for more development and for the plot to thicken in the future installments.

3 Stars
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Larissa was born and still is living in the land of ice, snow and maple syrup. She's 18 years old and really has no idea what to do with her life lately. Larissa's plans are constantly changing--though there’s one thing has remained constant throughout her seventeen years, and that’s reading. It takes her to another world and puts her into impossible situations and that’s why she loves it so much.

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37 Responses to Review: To All of the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

  1. Thank you for the great review, Larissa! I’m glad you enjoyed this book, but sorry that you had a few problems with it. However, I think it will be a great, light Summer read as you mentioned in your review.
    Ebony @ Paperbacks & Protagonists recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday #10 – Book Covers I’d Frame as Pieces of ArtMy Profile

  2. It’s almost good to see this book not getting the full 5 stars like other people have been giving, it makes a nice change I think. It’s good to see this book wasn’t perfect for you and that you had issues, because I felt very iffy about trying it knowing Jenny Han was like a treasure around the blogsphere. Josh seems like a right a-hole and Peter just sounds lovely and realistic, so I don’t know if I’ll try this yet or whether I’ll wait for the sequel instead, still, great review Larissa! 🙂
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…Top Ten Tuesdays #17 – Book Covers I’d Frame As Pieces of ArtMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      I just honestly don’t think this one was a five star read for me. Not with the amount of issues I had with it. Josh was so annoying >.< I couldn't stand reading anything about him. Peter on the other hand was quite nice c: Thank you Amanda!

  3. Lovely review Larissa! I have seen this around the place and really wanted to purchase it because it sounds like the perfect contemporary that I’m looking for. I’m glad you highlighted some of the issues you had with it like the juvenile voice. Thank you!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry Review: A typical bad boy romanceMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Thank you Jeann! (: It may be what you’re looking for, it’d make for great beach reading. Yeah, the juvenile voice was quite a turn off for myself.

  4. I think yours is the first review I’ve stumbled across that hasn’t been OMG AMAZING!! I also love the cover! I haven’t read this one yet!
    Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books recently posted…WINNER of a copy of ‘Hidden’ by Marianne CurleyMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Haha really? I just found myself having a number of issues, so I couldn’t just slap on a five star rating and call it good. I love the cover so much! It’s adorable. I hope you enjoy this one

  5. Hmmmm, I tend to dislike characters with childish voices. It makes it harder for me to connect with them. The family aspect sounds great though. I really miss that in most contemporaries (or other genres). I like the overall idea of this book and I think I will give it a shot when I’m in the mood for it 🙂
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Early Review 257. Cassandra Clarke – The wizard’s promise.My Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Yeah, then you might want to stay far away from this book. Lara Jean was quite the epitome of childish and immature. It was like her defining trait. The family aspect was quite well done on the other hand though. Yeah, I think your enjoyment of this one would highly depend on your mood.

  6. I loved the author’s Burn for Burn series and was pretty excited for this one but now I am having second thoughts. Like you, I loved the cover, but from reading the reviews of other people, it seems that Lara Jean is not someone I’d relate to easily. I don’t like the simplistic characters, or writing that borders on simplistic (her Burn for Burn series was co-written with another person so maybe that helped in my loving it), so that’s a sure pet peeve from me, too. Also, liking your sister’s ex-boyfriend? Doesn’t that just seem a wee bit gross? How could you like or even want to kiss someone who has kissed and probably made love with a family member? EW EW EW EW
    Faye @ The Social Potato recently posted…ARC Review: The Thickety, A Path Begins by J.A. WhiteMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      I also find that enjoyable, there’s something about it that just makes me read it so compulsively. Yeah Lara Jean wasn’t the least bit relatable for me. Honestly, if you don’t like simplistic characters then I wouldn’t recommend you read this one. I think the only reason I didn’t pitch a fit about the writing was because it grew on me after awhile. YES!!! omg it’s actually so gross. It’s like you’re indirectly kissing your sister omfg ew

  7. I think for me, it would be the cover that would draw me to this book as well. It to cute and adorable to pass up. Though I’m sorry this didn’t live up to your expectations. I haven’t really read anything by this author, although she is very popular for the Burn for Burn books which I haven’t read yet. Lovely review! 🙂
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah it really just called for me haha. I would recommend Jenny’s Burn for Burn books. They have a quality that just makes them simply put downable. I also find the characters much more tolerable than Lara Jean.

  8. I wasn’t terribly interested in this based on the summary, but I’m glad there were some good moments/characters in the book even if the MC is immature.
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Guest Post: Series EndersMy Profile

  9. Jasprit says:

    I’m sorry that you weren’t able to enjoy this book as much as you’d hoped Larissa, but thank you for the honest review, I hope that the follow up books works out a lot better for you, if you decide to give it a go.
    Jasprit recently posted…Review: Far From You by Tess SharpeMy Profile

  10. I love this cover! I started the audio for this one last week and had to DNF after about 2 hours in. Nothing much had happened and yes, the MC sounded so childish! I could NOT get over the fact that she referred to her parents as mommy and daddy. It was kind of cringe worthy to me. Maybe my mind is just to pervy but I rolled my eyes at how often she called them that. ‘Daddy was going to the store’ or ‘make sure you take care of daddy’…
    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted…Audiobook Review: Cupcakes and Ink by Helena Hunting!My Profile

    • Larissa says:

      It’s just so cute! Wow, I honestly think I would have DNF’ed the audiobook for this one. Lol i can just picture the voice of Lara Jean and it’s not a pretty one. Yeah, that was strange! It only added to her oddness. LOL yeah I definitely rolled my eyes too

  11. Mmm…I don’t honestly think I’d jump at this one. A contemporary has to be pretty dang awesome to get me excited. My entire shelves are stuff with the epic-y and fantastical books. Haha! I have a wild imagination. x) I think the juvenile voice would also rub me up the wrong way. It makes me wonder if the author is a teeny bit out-of-touch with teens???
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…Top 10 Book Covers I Will Hug and Cherish And FrameMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Yeah this wasn’t the super amazing and moving contemporary I think you’d be looking for. I also have quite the rampant imagination hehe. Yeah the juvenile voice drove me up the wall, it was so unrealistic and ugh. The odd thing is that Jenny Han’s Burn for Burn series is so on point.

  12. Zoe N. says:

    Even if it wasn’t as well-done as you would have hoped, I’m glad you at least found it enjoyable! The slightly underdeveloped characterization and the juvenile narration might throw me off a bit, but, besides that, everything else sounds pretty darn spectacular! Thanks so much for sharing Larissa, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3
    Zoe N. recently posted…We Were LiarsMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Yeah those two things definitely threw me off. It was just so unnecessary and really made me dislike certain components of the book. Overall it wasn’t too bad though (: Thank you, as always, for being super sweet and leaving a wonderful comment <33

  13. Lexa Cain says:

    I’m not such a fan of the cover – but I’m not a teen. lol I enjoyed your review and from what you wrote, it does sound like a cute beach read.
    Lexa Cain recently posted…Celebrate & Book WinnersMy Profile

  14. I feel like Jenny Han has a trend of writing contemporary trilogies which is usually strange because like you said, it seems like the story can be wrapped up with a few extra chapters if it kept going the way it was supposed to go. Josh sounds like a horrible love interest, definitely Team Peter just from your review! 😉
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah it really is odd! It just ends up dragging out the plot line. Ugh, Josh was too annoying. He’s exactly the type of person I would extremely dislike in my real life. Hehe, welcome to team Peter, we have cookies [;

  15. Melliane says:

    you’re rightn the cover is reallt nice!I’m sorry it wasn’t what you expected but at last you still had a good time despite so many points. thanks for the review.
    Melliane recently posted…Frost Burned by Patricia BriggsMy Profile

  16. I kind of expected this to be a cute beach read, so I’ve been holding off reading it until a beautiful, warm day where I can sit outside and enjoy it. I’m sorry to see you had a few concerns, but I’m happy that you overall enjoyed it. 🙂 Great review!
    Lisa (Lost in Literature) recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson & Perfect Kind of Trouble by Chelsea FineMy Profile

  17. Larissa says:

    Yeah it definitely fits the cute beach read bill. I hope one of those nice warm days comes soon for you c: Thank you!

  18. THIS IS A SERIES? Okay, I think I’m definitely not picking this up anymore. I read Jenny Han’s summer series and didn’t really like it that much. But this book has been getting a lot of buzz, and I agree that cover just catches your attention so I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. But then you mentioned Josh. And I don’t think I’d like Josh at all. Strangely enough, I read another novel with the same type of thing. The younger sister likes the guy who likes her older sister. The guy also kept on going back and forth between the sisters. Oh, and the guy’s name was also Josh. And come to think of it, Han’s Summer series also had two brothers as the love interests.
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  19. Oh no, a high school girl who sounds like she’s eleven? That can’t be good.

    I saw so many friends get ENRAGED over the last book in this author’s other series that I wasn’t really interested in this despite the cute premise and cover. (Yes, I totally made someone spoil what happens for me…grrr.) It’s a shame it was on the disappointing side. :/ I’m glad to have read your review though, because I just know I would have read raves that would have tempted me to read it.
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  20. Zaira F says:

    I’ve also read from some reviews that they didn’t like Lara Jean that much and that they found it hard to relate to her too. I’m kinda having second thoughts. Most of the reviews I’m seeing are usually 3/5 ratings. Also, not too sure about having her sister’s ex-boyfriend as a love interest…

  21. Glass says:

    Great review, Larissa. Yes, J. Han strongest side is portraying family.
    I can’t wait to read it.
    Glass recently posted…ARC Review – Life by Committee by Corey Ann HayduMy Profile

  22. Grace Osas says:

    I liked this book. However, I couldn’t stand the fake relationship. And Josh didn’t seem that great in this book. I definitely liked it enough to want the sequel. But Peter doesn’t suit Lara Jean at all.

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