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.
It feels condescending to deem a book "cute", but in this particular instance, it's anything but. To All The Boys I've Loved Before an incredibly cute, uplifting read, and I am all but certain that it's one of those books capable of putting a smile on anyone's face. In equal parts cringeworthy, hilarious and moving, Jenny Han's latest will remind you why you love good YA contemporaries - or start your love for them if you don't.
To All The Boys I've Loved Before follows Lara Jean Song Covey (yes, it is a mouthful). As a middle child with two other sisters and raised by a single father, Lara has always been just a bit more withdrawn than her confident older sister, or her boisterous younger one. For example, when she falls in love, she falls in love with "the unattainable guy". Lara Jean will then pine for this guy until the time she writes him a love letter. These are not just ordinary love letters - they are goodbye letters. When she's finished writing a letter to a boy, Lara Jean is no longer burdened by her love for him. She then addresses each letter, puts it in a hatbox and forgets all about it.
Until, that is, each and every one of the letters she has written gets sent out to their subjects.
More than just a good old fashioned love story, To All The Boys I've Loved Before is a tale of a quirky, loving family and of their intricate dynamics. It's a coming-of-age story where Lara Jean finds herself taking care of her family and being the proactive one for the first time in her life - and learning about her own potential in the process. The Coveys are not a picture-perfect family on the outside, but they most certainly are just that on the inside, and when it counts. In this family, a sister is sometimes a mother and the sister's boyfriend is sometimes possibly your dream-boyfriend, too. And your own boyfriend, incidentally, is mostly just for show (or is he?).
It's not as complicated as it sounds. I promise.
Having said all this, you may want to hold off on reading To All The Boys I've Loved Before until the sequel comes out. If you've never heard of a mother of a cliffhanger in an uplifting contemporary novel, you're about to get introduced to one. It hurts. It hurts so much. And dearly do I wish I'd known about it ahead of time.
BOOK REVIEW: TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE BY JENNY HAN
4/ 5Oleh The Honest Bookclub