Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
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.
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