I actually read this book for the first time in high school, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as my friends or find it extremely memorable. 🌸 I decided to give it a reread because of the Netflix movie (which looks so freaking cute!) and because my best friend says the series improves so much, especially with the last book.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has really grown on me, and its romance and fun-loving family dynamics are as refreshing as the narrator herself, Lara Jean. There are parts where the characters act somewhat immature, but it all fit into the chick-flick, fluffy contemporary plot nicely. My main critique of this book would be the writing—there were too many times where it felt choppy and incomplete.
Spoiler-free Summary: Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song 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 pours out her heart and soul and says 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.
I give this book somewhere between a 3.5 to 4/5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐ It definitely has room for improvement, but it’s a much better read this second time around. I also already finished the next book in the series and can say with confidence that everything is improving. I would highly recommend giving it a try! 👌
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with Jenny Han’s writing. On one hand, it’s extremely simple and direct, making it captivating from the start. The first few lines drew me in immediately—it was innocent, wishful, and appealed to my inner romantic.
“I like to save things. Not important things like whales or people or the environment. Silly things. Porcelain bells…cookie cutters…ribbons…love letters.”
On the other hand, the writing sometimes felt incomplete. The short chapters would be filled with short sentences, and while I’m not saying it’s the end of the world, they ended up feeling more like fillers. I was left with wanting more from the author. I wanted her to further explain Lara Jean’s feelings, Peter’s actions, Genevieve’s attitude, etc.
Lara Jean. She’s innocent and has her head in the clouds. She’s loving and loyal. 💞 Sure, there are times where she acts immature, but I can empathize with her actions and feelings because they’re feelings we all have probably experienced. Maybe it’s just me but I find her to be a very relatable character. She’s very girly and has strong family values. Her fashion sense and overall aesthetic are what I aspire to achieve. Plus, she hates driving and loves baking. 🍰 #SAMEJosh. The boy next door. 🧢 Also, Margot’s (ex)boyfriend. There’s a line in the book that says Margot fell in love with Josh because everyone else in the family was in love with him. I think it’s such a perfect description of Josh’s relationship with the Song-Covey family. He has such a great understanding of everyone in the family such as how he plays games with Kitty, goes fishing with their dad, and unintentionally dressed up as Harry Potter for Halloween, matching Lara Jean’s costume. ⚡
Peter. Where can I get myself a Peter Kavinsky?? I definitely think movie Peter is better than book Peter (at least in the first book). He’s definitely a great guy, but he becomes a lot more mature as the series grows. (I’m also writing my thoughts on his character way after I’ve read the books, so now I’m having some trouble discerning movie Peter with book Peter 😅). Other Characters: Kitty. The baby of the Song-Covey family but is also pretty mature. I wish I could be more frustrated and angry at her for mailing out Lara Jean’s letters, but I can’t because it wasn’t meant to be malicious and she’s still just a kid. Margot. I can’t hate Margot because she truly hasn’t done anything wrong and because she’s a good person. Genevie. Lara Jean’s ex-best friend and Peter’s ex-girlfriend. I really don’t like her, and she’s even worse in the next book. 🙄
Chris. This paragraph is just for a little Chris appreciation. At first, her character introduction rubbed me the wrong way because she just seemed so extreme that I didn’t understand how her friendship with Lara Jean could’ve worked out, but they’re honestly such great friends who balance each other out well.
Have you ever read one of those Candy Apple books in middle school? 🍎 To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is like one of those…but better. Everything is more fleshed out and the plotline appeals so much to my teenage girl heart. The family relationships in this book make my heart so happy. 😭 #SongSistersForLyfe Honestly, it makes me wish that I had sisters. I love how their dad does so much for the girls too such as making Korean food so they have ties to their culture. I really love the whole drama of Peter and Lara Jean pretending to date so that Josh doesn’t think Lara Jean likes him anymore. It’s definitely over-the-top and probably not the most realistic, but it’s such an enjoyable plotline. Watching everything unfolds truly felt like a movie!
If you hate the love triangles trope, you’ll probably dislike this book, but lucky for me, I am such a sucker for a good love triangle. 😍 I loved seeing both guys get jealous of one another over our dear Lara Jean. Mwhaha! I know some people will hate on Lara Jean for liking Josh because he’s dating her sister, but she didn’t actively try to steal him away from Margot. She wrote his letter as a way to release all her feelings and help herself stop liking him! I loved watching Lara Jean and Peter slowly fall for each other!! My heart was singing for joy. 💖
The movie was so freaking good!!! It was so soft, and I loved it so much. 😍😭 I definitely think the movie made me a bigger fan of the books, and I am now always listening to the song Like Me Better by Lauv which is in the trailer and movie. 🎵 I was pretty sad that some of my favorite scenes (e.g. Halloween party) were cut and that there was barely any explanation of the Song sisters’ Korean heritage, but overall, I still think this movie was wonderful and deserves a sequel!
This series definitely improves throughout the books! Like I said earlier, my main critique is Jenny Han’s writing, but it also improves throughout the series. 🌟The romance gets fluffier, and the plotline gets more interesting. Lara Jean also matures more as a character, so I highly recommend continuing the series! Plus, John Ambrose McClaren in the next book is one of my favorite characters. 💖
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Have you read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before? Are you as excited as me for the movie? Let me know in the comments! 💕