Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on April 15th, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her.
They aren't love letters that anyone else wrote for her, these are ones she's written. One for every boy she's ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
Ever since the too-adorbs-for-words cover of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was released, I was pretty much convinced I had to read this. It just looks so cute and lovely – and Jenny Han is an author that I’ve been meaning to check out for a while. Well, I finally got enough room in my schedule to read it and… LOVE. Loved, loved, loved this book. It is top notch banterfluff, make no mistake.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before tells the story of Lara Jean, a Korean-American junior in high school, whose love letters to her old crushes accidentally get mailed out. She usually writes these letters to get out all her feelings so she can move on from the guys – some of them being years and years old, and one of them being written to… her sister’s ex-boyfriend. UH OH. Her sister having left to college in Scotland, Lara Jean covers to keep things from being awkward with Josh by… pretending Peter – another letter-recipient – is her new boyfriend.
FAKE DATING. Seriously, I don’t know how, but I either completely forgot that this all-time favorite trope of mine was used in this book, or it completely escaped my notice. BUT OH MY GOD. It’s so good. It gets me every time. Peter is almost a polar opposite to Lara Jean. He’s the popular, somewhat of a playboy, definitely more experienced guy who likes to take life as it comes and not get too serious about anything. Lara Jean is much more conservative, having grown up in a family without a mother, and now without her older sister Margot, she bares the weight of caring for her little sister. She’s more introverted and bookish – kind of a homebody. But these two vastly different characters are magic together.
Obviously, with Lara Jean’s more introverted and shy personality, I could instantly form a bond with her. She’s maybe a bit more (or a lot more) naive than I was in high school, but it’s a difficult period for her. She’s always been heavily reliant on Margot – not only in terms of keeping the family together, but also as her absolute best friend. Without her, she’s struggling to keep her head above water, and she makes more than enough mistakes. That romantic mishaps should come on top of that was not exactly part of the plan.
Peter is hilarious, though. He agrees to the fake dating scenario so that he can also prove to his ex-girlfriend that he’s moving on and is not her property. He and Lara Jean don’t particularly like each other at the start (Lara Jean had some arguably rude things to say about him in her letter), but as they start spending time together, they both mellow out. They both had misconceptions about the other, and being together lets Peter chill out a bit, not having to be the big shot popular guy, and Lara Jean develop more of a social life. The banter, above all, is top notch. Seriously. Their dialogue is amazing. I ship it soooooo much.
The one thing that did kind of get on my nerves is Josh and the sort-of love triangle that develops. Josh gets Lara Jean’s letter to him and finds out that she liked him before he started dating her sister. He then comes with the brilliant revelation that way back when, he liked her too. And he seems to feel like that’s at all relevant or permissible now. I’m fucking sorry, Josh, but you need to fucking quit. You dated her sister. For two years. That’s not even a violation of girl code, that’s just an unwritten law of the universe – you don’t date or pursue your ex’s sister. Period. You can take your jealousy and stuff it. I get that his presence was necessary to set up the whole fake dating thing, but towards the end of the book, he really went too far.
But that’s okay, because all throughout the book I was filled with happy feels. It’s not only just Lara Jean and Peter’s every interaction, it’s also the beautiful family bond going on. Lara Jean is incredibly close with her sisters, and though Margot quickly leaves, her relationship with her younger sister Kitty is too adorbs for words. Kitty is absolutely one of my favorite characters. She’s just so REAL. She’s young and annoying, childish and selfish, but she is the quintessential little sister. All those moments when she annoys you simultaneously endears her to you, because she’s so cute. And yeah. All the family scenes with Lara Jean, Kitty, their dad, and even Josh made my heart very very happy.