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.
Description taken from Goodreads.
I loved Jenny Han’s SUMMER series and so when I heard that Han was coming out with a new book, I got really excited. This book was one of my most anticipated contemporary picks for 2014 and I was psyched to find out what happened to Lara Jean and her letters.
Here’s the thing.
This book isn’t about the letters. Well, it is, but in a lot of ways it isn’t at all. It’s more about Lara Jean’s rekindled romance and relationships with the boys who receive her letters. I would say about 98% of the book isn’t really about the letters at all.
Nevertheless, I was determined to like this book. I continued on long after the letters were all sent out. Another thing here is that it’s not really any big mystery who could’ve possibly sent out the letters. There’s two possible people, and Lara Jean is genuinely shocked when she finds out it’s one of the two people who could’ve sent the letters out.
There are five letters in total. Two of them end up not making any significance at all, and out of the remaining three, they all matter. Except two of them end up as love interests and the one left over ends up as a friend type because he’s gay, which is clear but Lara Jean refuses to accept for a long time until she receives the confession face-to-face. So let’s talk about the two love interests, shall we?
The real plot to this story is made up of a half-formed love triangle between Lara Jean, Peter and Lara Jean’s older sister’s boyfriend, Josh. Oh yes, and this crushing-on-older-sister’s-boyfriend thing has been going on for quite a while.
Lara Jean starts fake-dating Peter to try and get rid of Josh, because she doesn’t want Josh to love her because he’s her older sister’s boyfriend and Peter is into this deal because he wants to make his recently-turned ex girlfriend jealous. That’s as far as I’m going to go with this storyline so I don’t give away spoilers, but you get the gist of the plot. This is really all there is to it, folks.
Oh yes, but I forgot to tell you about the ending. Don’t worry, there’s no spoilers here because THERE IS NOTHING TO TELL.
The ending is completely unresolved. There’s no cliffhanger, no sense of closure, nothing. And this is a series.
This ending gives me nothing. I don’t feel excited at all to read the next book, or the book after that, or whatever comes out of this series. Part of this has to do with Lara Jean herself and the relationships she has with other people.
Lara Jean herself is at times childish, at times irritating, at times silly, at times too grown up and a lot of the time immature. Sometimes she sounds like a five year old, at other times it’s like she’s twenty. She never speaks as her age. Maybe this is due to her sisters, but I’m not convinced. There’s nothing that I loved about her. She consistently disappointed me and created a train wreck wherever she went, always needing people to save her.
Then there’s how she is with her family. We don’t really see much of Lara Jean’s dad in this book and her mom is dead. Margot (her older sister) spends most of her character portrayal through emails, phone calls and Skype chats since she’s going to college abroad. Margot basically takes care of the family, especially their father. However, Margot’s personality is incredibly frustrating. Her sisters and family depend on her, and yet she’s selfish and doesn’t see past what’s right in front of her. She stabs Lara Jean in the back because of something that was Margot’s fault to begin with.
Then there’s the little one, Kitty. She’s the only Song sister I actually liked, even though her choices toward the end frustrated me a little bit. Kitty’s the relief of this story. She’s funny and snarky, everything that I had hoped that Lara Jean would be. She also has a good dynamic with Peter as he gives her and Lara Jean rides to school since Margot’s car (which Lara Jean borrowed) is in the shop (due to Lara Jean’s stupidity).
Now on the boys.
Josh is invisible for half the book. The other half he’s either professing his love to Margot or Lara Jean.
On the outside, I would’ve loved him staying a friend figure, but when you really get to know him, he and Lara Jean are made for each other. Or him and Margot. Whatever way he ends up going (WE DON’T KNOW BECAUSE THERE’S NO CLOSURE) he’ll find a person just as insufferable as him.
Then Peter. The jerk of it all. There’s no love between him and Lara Jean, they just think there is. No matter what, he’s got to make up his mind, because while he’s supposedly falling in love with Lara Jean, he also still loves his ex girlfriend.
I thought that this book would blow me away, but apparently not. If you’re looking for something with this style, I would recommend Jenny Han’s other books, her Summer Series or The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes, which is an awesome summer read as well and much better written than this book. 2 stars.
pg count for the kindle edition: 288
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before