Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Fiction, Teen, Romance
‘Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That’s the part of the risk.’
INFO | Goodreads
BUY | The Book Depository
Fine, I’ll admit it. I’m surprised. To those who have been following the Words & Geeks Book Club, you’ll know that at my checkpoint post, I was experiencing mixed emotions towards the book. To those who have dropped in to read the review, without following the book club, I will attempt to summarise the story.
The protagonist is middle child Lara Jean, who for years, instead of taking a risk with love, has written her feelings down in letters, and hidden them in a hatbox. When the letters are mysteriously sent out to the five boys she has loved, she must suffer the embarrassing consequences, and fight to hide the truth – that she is still in love with her sister’s ex boyfriend.
For starters, I wasn’t convinced that our narrator was 16/17; she was too naive and I felt that despite her age, a more likely readership would be around 12/13 (it was the sort of book I was reading at that age). The intended audience shouldn’t lessen the quality of the book, but I disagree with those who argue it is YA fiction.
I really don’t know how I feel about Lara Jean as a character. Margot (or even Kitty, her youngest sister) was certainly more protagonist material; in comparison I thought Lara’s personality was a little bit hollow. At the beginning, I liked that, and thought it meant she would do some serious personal growth throughout the story, and really develop as a character. In my opinion though, she didn’t. There is a sequel, so perhaps there will be some development there.
I think the book is set up so that the reader either roots for Josh or for Peter. Personally, I didn’t really root for either of them in the end. I was surprised to learn that Josh had only really dated Margot because he thought Lara Jean wasn’t an option. Poor Margot. Does that mean Josh was only ever halfheartedly committed to her? The idea disturbs me. I also hated how Josh just forced a kiss on Lara Jean near the end. It was completely out of character for him, and considering how much he went on about Peter not being right for someone like her, I thought it was all a bit hypocritical.
For a long while, I was actually rooting for Peter. I suppose I was quite taken by the image of the cool guy with the soft centre. There was just one line which ruined it for me (aside from him enjoying the rumours of hot tub shenanigans, which were clearly distressing Lara Jean), and that was:
What Gen and I have is completely separate from you and me.
What a load of nonsense; it really showed that Peter hadn’t made any development as a character either. Was there any character development for any of them? Your thoughts? Still, I wasn’t deterred from racing through this book once the action had properly started (about a fifth of the way through).
Despite my obvious reservations, I really enjoyed the excitement of Lara Jean’s struggle between increasing feelings towards Peter, and confused feelings towards Josh. I also loved Kitty; she pretty much made the book for me.
Star Rating: ☆☆☆½ (3.5/5)
Thanks to all who followed the book club this month – it’s been fun! Don’t forget to head over to The Geek Undergraduate, to see what her final thoughts were on the book. August’s book has already been announced, so we hope you’ll join us again soon.