Book #69 – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

15749186Sinéad suggested I try this book. And I suspect she got the recommendation from Tumblr, because that’s where she finds lots of things. I love the cover of this book – it’s really simple, but really pretty, and the handwritten title is evocative of the mood of the book in general.

So!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han

This is a YA book about Lara Jean, who’s 16, and just about to enter her junior year. The middle of three girls, Lara Jean has always written love letters to the boys she loves – once she’s finished with them, that is, she writes all her feelings about them in a letter on her good, thick writing paper, seals them, addresses them, and then puts them in the hatbox her mother gave her, under her bed, never to be sent. Until, that is, the hatbox disappears one day, and her letters get sent.  The recipients of the letters then begin to come forwards, including her first kiss, the boy from summer camp and, horror of horrors, her sister’s ex-boyfriend. But dealing with her feelings instead of writing them down and forgetting about them may lead to some unexpected results.

So! Romance-wise, this was a typical, possibly a little dull, teen romance, with confusion, stolen kisses, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, intrigue, lies, and a hottub. There was nothing objectionable about it, but nothing spectacular either. Yet I’d rate this book pretty highly. Why is that?

Well, it’s actually because of Lara Jean’s relationship with her sisters. She’s the middle of three girls, and I am too (although I have a brother as well), so she really resonated with me. Throughout the book there are loads of lovely descriptions of how her relationship with her sisters works, from her smartass younger sister directing when she drives (errr… yes, I need Sinéad to navigate for me) to her lies that everything is fine so as not to worry her older sister, even as far as little things like bribing her sister with cookies to get help with styling hair and her younger sister’s opinion on boys being very important. The relationship between the three Song girls really resonated with me, far more than the romantic entanglements (and they’re very entangled) between Lara Jean, her sister Margot, Margot’s ex Josh, Lara Jean’s first kiss Peter, and Peter’s ex Gen (who also happens to be Lara Jean’s ex-best-friend).

I really, thoroughly enjoyed this book. It wasn’t particularly deep, or thrilling, or in any way heart-rending, but it was cute, sweet, and loving, and did a wonderful job of depicting the relationship between three sisters.
One thing which irritated me a little was that it was written in present tense – lots of books which I’ve read lately are, but it grates a little on my nerves. Not enough to deduct a star though, just something worth noting.

It wasn’t quite all wrapped up neatly in the end, but I was satisfied with the ending. There have been a few reviews which I read on GoodReads who bemoaned the fact that it’s not a perfectly wrapped up ending. That’s in part due to the fact that there’s a sequel coming in 2015, called P.S. I Still Love You, and I’ll certainly pick that one up, too. However, I think the book is strong enough to stand on its own as well – there’s a definite sense of closure at the end of the book, while also retaining the possibility of future romances. And, let’s face it, isn’t that how most teenagers live their lives?

Four Stars
****

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One response to “Book #69 – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

  1. Pingback: Sarah Dessen Mega-Post | Much Ado About Books

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