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

March 3, 2020

Lara Jean needs a plan. But it is currently hard to make one, as she is mastering driving, watching her older sister leave for college in Scotland, waiting for her single father to come home from late shifts at the hospital and taking care of her younger sister, Kitty. One fact about Lara Jean: when she has a crush, she crushes hard. She thinks about what he’s doing, or if he likes Cherry Coke, or if maybe he’ll ask her to the Valentine’s dance. So she starts writing secret letters to the boys she’s liked. When she writes, she writes like he’ll never read it. There’s no filter between Lara Jean’s brain and her pen. This means that when her precious letters get sent out, it feels like the end of the world. 

There are five letters, five boys: Kenny from camp; Lucas Krapft, who is gay; blue-eyed John Ambrose McClaren; Josh, her next door neighbor (who is also her older sister’s boyfriend); and finally cocky, shamless Peter Kavinsky, who’s dating Lara Jean’s  popular ex-friend, Genevieve. 

Jenny Han writes with a seamless, distinctive flair. The diction is on point, and the little unique details she incorporates help paint pictures in the reader’s mind. Han took into consideration how to round out each character and give him or her depth by the end. The book’s genre is mostly contemporary realistic fiction, but with a slight “who dunnit?” vibe as Lara Jean’s readers puzzle over how the letters were sent.

One aspect I took away from this book was the flawless transition from Lara Jean’s reflections to the present. The structure of this book is broken up between the present or Lara Jean’s perspective, and there are a couple chapters where Lara Jean explains important information and helps set the stage for the reader. The reflection was the main character speaking to the reader, informing them of past events, and the present was Lara Jean’s present. Strategies like these are effective and help the plot to move along.

Lara Jean will surprise her audience every step of the way. When readers first experience this main character, they might find her timid or spineless, but throughout the book, Lara Jean grows as a character and gains confidence. I enjoyed how Han developed her character and thought about how she could grow and blossom.

I also appreciated the character of Peter Kavinsky, the overconfident, popular jock. When the story starts, audiences may find him very smug and self obsessed, but as he spends time with Lara Jean, they both help each other—Peter brings out Lara Jean’s confidence, and Lara Jean draws out Peter’s emotional past, and helps him through it.

This novel is a must read. I rated it an eleven out of ten, and I would recommend it to anyone above twelve who likes romantic comedies, contemporary realistic fiction, or a bit of love and a touch of adventure. I especially loved the ending in this book: the suspense and romance all in one create an edgy, exciting novel filled with choice.  

Readers  will adore Han’s beautifully crafted book and crave more. There are two follow ups—a second and third book—and the whole series follows Lara Jean through her adventure-filled high school experience. Be sure to pick up this novel, as it will leave you speechless.

Freida

Simon & Schuster, 368 pages


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