Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Review of 'To all the Boys...' by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

By Jenny Han


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.

Source: Goodreads

Rating: 4 / 5

My Thoughts:

Warning: This review includes SPOILERS so if you haven't read To All the Boys I've Loved Before yet, then...you have been warned!

I read this book purely because it was included in quite a few book blogs as a 'best of 2014' read. Consequently, I had a lot of high expectations, which is hardly ever a good thing...

The story is told from Lara Jean’s perspective (love the name), who is the middle of three sisters. After their mother's death, the eldest sister, Margot, looked after her sisters and father. She's the responsible, organised and basically mother hen of the family. When Margot moves to Scotland, Lara Jean steps up to take her place, which isn't half as easy as it looked.

At the same time as Margot's departure to Scotland, Lara Jean's private letters have been posted by an anonymous sender to make it look like Lara Jean sent them out (it was rather obvious who had sent them). She had written these letters a very long time ago to the boys she was 'in love' with at the time. This wouldn’t be such a problem if one of those letters hadn't been sent to their neighbour Josh, who happens to be Margot's ex-boyfriend. And who Lara Jean still has feelings for.

What I liked about this book was how it focused on both family love and romantic love. Lara Jean liked Josh first, but because of her sister, she buried her feelings, which is sweet in a twisted way. When she fakes a relationship with Peter, she discourages him from getting involved with her little sister Kitty because she doesn’t want Kitty to get attached and then hurt when that faux relationship is over. All three sisters looked after their dad like he was their child, not the other way round, which was adorable.  
I was really hoping that either Peter or Josh would stand out in the story and make a lasting impression, but alas this was not to be. Peter did become more likeable as the story progressed but neither one made it to a potential ‘book boyfriend’ status. In fact, I probably liked Josh more than Peter because of his dependable nature and the harry potter / fantasy book references. I expected Peter to fall head over heels for Lara Jean but even in the deepest moments, he had one eye on his ex, the evil Genevieve, and that wound me up. Pick one or the other, you can’t have both so make your mind up already!

Lara Jean’s character was brilliant; she’s funny and naive in her own way. She's so family orientated (Josh is almost family by association) that she never took the time to make many friends, something she realises when Margot leaves. The only friend she does have is crazy Chrissy, who reminds me a lot of one of my close friends., but Chrissy is an unreliable train wreck so she hardly counts. When Lara Jean begins her fake relationship with Peter, she’s suddenly the centre of attention and her social awkwardness made me laugh. For example, Peter tries to kiss Lara Jean at school and she's so startled that she head-butts him instead!
To summarise, ‘To all the boys I’ve loved before’ wasn't the fantastic read I was expecting it to be, nonetheless it was a lovely read.

Zed (:
Favourite Quotes:

I wonder what it’s like to have that much power over a boy. I don’t think I’d want it; it’s a lot of responsibility to hold a person’s hear in your hands.

Peter’s eyes wide. “McClaren? When did you like him?” “Eighth grade.” “I thought you liked me in eighth grade!” “There may have been a little bit of overlap,” I admit.

“Right now? Well, I don’t like you that way so...” “Good,” Peter says. “Don’t go falling for me again, OK? I can’t have any more girls in love with me. It’s exhausting.”

“It’s empty now. All my things sold up. Can’t take it with you, you know.” “You mean when you die?” I whisper. He glares at me. “No. I mean to the nursing home.”

Josh points the remote control at me and says, “If people knew you, they would love you.” He sounds so matter-of-fact. Josh, you break my heart. And you’re a liar. Because you know me, you know me better than almost anybody, and you don’t love me.

So that’s that. It doesn’t matter if I like him or not, because he doesn’t like me back. It’s kind of silly to feel so disappointed about something you only just realised you wanted, isn’t it?

I want to say yes, but I don’t want to be with a boy whose heart belongs to somebody else. Just once, I want to be somebody’s first choice.

It’s like...it’s like there’s only ever been Peter. Like everyone else that came before him, they were all to prepare me for this. I think I see the difference now, between loving someone from afar and loving someone up close. When you see them up close, you see the real them, but they also get to see the real you. And Peter does. He sees me, and I see him.

And I’m certain, I’m so suddenly certain that everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be, that I don’t have to be so afraid of goodbye, because goodbye doesn’t have to be for ever.

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