Title: To All The Boys I've Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Age Rating: Readers over 13
My Opinion: 9/10
Sometimes good books come from unexpected sources. I was reading a Seventeen magazine (don't judge me!!!!), and I saw an ad for To All The Boys I've Loved Before. After looking at the adorable cover and reading the short summary of the book, I took a picture of the cover with my phone and then forgot about it. Finally, three months later, I got around to checking it out from the library, and boy, am I glad that I did. This is possibly because I just finished reading an extremely boring book, but I was absolutely entranced by Jenny Han's light and funny style of writing. I would highly recommend To All The Boys I've Loved Before to any high school girl.
When Lara Jean's mother was still alive, she gave her a teal hat box and told her to put her most prized possessions inside. Lara Jean takes her mom's advice and fills the box with five love letters. However, these are no normal love letters - she writes each one when she is done being in love with a different boy and wants to move on. She never expects anybody to read them. So when the letters are accidentally mailed, well, things get a little crazy. Each of the five boys reacts in a different way, and Lara Jean ends up in a love triangle that she never thought was possible. She has to navigate these difficult relationships while taking care of her family at the same time, a feat that is practically impossible.
My favorite part of the novel is that Jenny Han created characters that I fell in love with. They are all so lifelike that when I was reading, I felt like I was actually hanging out with Lara Jean and her family. My favorite character would probably be Lara Jean's little sister, Kitty. She's a stereotypical younger sibling, always getting on everybody's nerves, but she is extremely intelligent and witty. I also love the relationships between the characters. Of course, Han focuses on the relationships between Lara Jean and the boys, but she also incorporates Lara Jean's relationship with her two sisters and her father into the plot. Lara Jean's mourning of her mother is extremely realistic - she obviously misses her mother greatly, but she is not hung up on it and this seems to free up the story. I'm so impressed with how Han incorporated a few major social issues into the book while keeping it so upbeat and positive.
Lara Jean is just such a fantastic character that I could go on and on about her forever. She is everything that a female protagonist should be - strong but caring, smart, and passionate. Although she has a few flaws, they are flaws that the majority of high school girls can relate to. Reading about Lara Jean falling in love for the first time made me feel butterflies in my stomach alongside her, and I was rooting for her relationship to work out the whole time. I truly wanted Lara Jean to be happy, which is quite a feat considering she is a fictional character.
Just to clarify, though, To All The Boys I've Loved Before is only for a female audience. Male readers definitely wouldn't enjoy it as much as I did. I think that grown-ups would enjoy reading it and find it to be a cute book, but it is perfect for high school and even college-aged girls. Now, every time one of my friends asks for a book suggestion, I am totally telling them to read To All The Boys I've Loved Before.
P.S. I just found out there's a sequel coming out on my birthday next year!!!!! I can't wait! (P.S. I Still Love You, being released on April 21, 2015)