(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by Simon and Schuster on April 15th 2014
Genres: Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once? 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.
Lara Jean Song Covey is a hopeless romantic. In a teal hatbox that her deceased mother gave her she keeps letters to all the guys she has fallen in love with. Suddenly, she is blindsided by her letters being mysteriously mailed out to all the boys they’re addressed to. When her oldest sister’s newly ex-boyfriend receives the letter that she had written years before, she makes a split second decision that catapults her into a new world with new people. As Lara Jean learns what love truly is and about the ones she thought she loved before, she begins changing and finding who she is without hiding under the shadow of her sister, Margot, and the comfort of her family. With the help of an unexpected partnership, she learns that her letters were a way to hide even deeper and to not have to expose herself to new experiences—but the new experiences are coming to her.
“To belong to someone—I didn’t know it, but now that I think about, it seems like that’s all I’ve ever wanted. To really be somebody’s, and to have them be mine.”
Peter, the receiver of the first letter, becomes her confidant and they make an agreement that will work out for the both of them. As the relationship and pact they had starts to progress, Lara Jean realizes that maybe getting close to someone to benefit others was not the best decision. The guy she had previously believed to be arrogant and self-serving has more depth to him than she realizes, while others in her life are not all she had painted them to be.
I bought this book off the clearance rack in Books-A-Million, but I still haven’t figured out how it made it there. This book was addictive! Lara Jean has a contagious attitude, which is very optimistic and “dreamy-eyed”. Even in her love letters, which in some cases are negative, she always talks about the wonderful things that guys did to make her fall in love with them. She has a unique sense of style and an old soul, making her different than the other girls, especially in Peter’s eyes. Less than a hundred pages in I found myself having trouble putting it down because I was enamored by Lara Jean’s new, exciting world. As far as the title goes, I had expected it to be an overly romanticize teen novel that had parts in that went too far, too cliché. The title insinuates that there will be a lot of romance, but Lara Jean wrote the letters without prior knowledge of relationships, so it wouldn’t have fit into the context. I was a fan that it didn’t concentrate on teen relationships and allowed Lara Jean to focus on finding someone who she can have a deeper connection with besides picking up soccer balls while it’s raining. While at first I thought Lara Jean’s voice might have been too young, as I delved deeper into the novel it became clear why Jenny Han made her sound younger. With her sister going off to college, Lara Jean is once again without a mother figure in her life—she is now the one who has to take care of the littlest sister Kitty and has to step out of her comfort zone. She has been taken care of and coddled by Margot, who believed that she had to be the sole caretaker. When left with major responsibilities, Lara Jean almost cracks under the pressure but the novel is a learning and growing experience for her.
I have a hard time accepting that this book is a standalone because of the ending, and I have so many questions about what happens next. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is one of the best books I’ve read in a while, and I’m dying to find out more about Lara Jean and the other major characters. Some may have a problem with the way the book ended, and in a way I do. It is a quite abrupt ending and doesn’t have the Nicholas Sparks finality, allowing readers to speculate for themselves what happens next. While I am not a fan of speculating and want to be told specifically, I am hopeful this means a sequel is in the works. Even if that is not true, it is a lovely, escape-worthy book.