Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Published by Simon and Schuster on April 15th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Amazon // The Book Depository
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.
reading to all the boys i’ve loved before was a struggle. i’d love it one moment, but the next i’d want to throw it across the room and never pick it up again.
lara jean was a character i wanted to simultaneously strangle and hug. (i didn’t even know those types of relationships existed.) sometimes she’d say or do things that would make me roll my eyes to the ends of the universe, but others i would be cheering her on. it left me confused and i didn’t know what to make of her. the main reason i couldn’t stand her was because of her extremely immature and childish characteristics. honestly, lara jean would act like she was seven-year-old. there were times i found it hard to connect with her.
there were strong sister relationships in this novel, but in all honesty, i really didn’t like laura jean’s sister. she was constantly praised, but all of her actions went against what laura jean thought/claimed. it’s constantly reminded throughout the book how laura jean needs to “set a good example” and be more like margot, her older sister, but from what i saw, margot was a terrible sister. she was my least favorite character of the novel and i couldn’t relate to her. although the siblings’ relationship played a huge role in the novel, i didn’t particularly like how it was portrayed.
okay, now i sound like i hated the novel, but i promise that’s not the case! there were lots of cute moments and chapters between lara jean and (unnamed character). thinking about the two of them makes me squeal. the plot was interesting enough to keep me going and was different from most contemporary novels. the ending left me wanting more and i was extremely frustrated at the time, but there’s a second book! yay!
one of my pet peeves in books are annoying characters, so i didn’t enjoy this as much as i’d like. however if you like cute, contemporary stories (and you don’t mind and aggravating character), i’d definitely recommend this!
UPDATE: so i went on the tumblr tag and realized my undying obsession with this duology (specifically triggered by this post and this post. SQUEEEE.). although the plot was a little meh, and the writing was a little meh, EVERYTHING ELSE WAS SO CUTE AND GOOD. i hadn’t really realized how much i love this series until i saw all the beautiful graphics and everything. so good, and so adorable. lara jean song is my aesthetic. <3333 CONCLUSION: i have a love-hate relationship with this series.
*spoiler-filled discussion beginning. please do not read unless you finished the book! enter with caution!!*
View Spoiler » okay, let’s begin with the ending. that ending. i was fairly disappointed by the ending of this book. i just wanted to see her reunited with peter. is that TOO MUCH TO ASK? i guess with contemporary books, the endings are supposed to be vague, but seriously? when lara jean’s dad said he wanted to get her that necklace, i was so convinced peter was going to sweep in and give her the necklace for christmas. that doesn’t happen. it’s fine; i get that. but i just hate that they don’t end on good terms. it’s implied, but you don’t know exactly. lara jean could write him that letter, and he could completely brush her off and go with gen again. you never know for sure if peter actually likes her. you don’t know exactly if peter spread that rumor or not (i’m pretty sure he didn’t, but you don’t know) i just. i hate th- UGH. it’s so frustrating. i thought i could handle vague endings because i read so many contemporary books in the past few months and there are a lot of dystopian books with vague endings as well (*cough cough legend by marie lu*), but THIS. i just wanted one more chapter. i just wanted to see them make up and to just know they’re okay. the ending is a big reason why i didn’t rate the book higher. it made me so frustrated. it’s almost like the imperial affliction in the fault in our stars, but not really. end rant. (please note: i wrote this before i found out about there being a second book~)
peter and lara jean. when i started the book, i didn’t expect that. looking back, i feel like i should’ve known right from the start that it wasn’t going to be josh. for one, josh was dating margot and lara jean knew they were going to get back together (will they? we will never know). if the main love interest was josh, lara jean would’ve had to betray her sister and she would never live with that (but she did end up betraying margot). there were a lot of moments when i was left in complete and utter shock. it wasn’t that it wouldn’t make sense, but i just never expected it. the chapter when she lied to josh and jumped into peter’s arms left my mouth hanging wide open (literally). another moment was when she found that letter in margot’s closet. (how could she break that pact, have sex, then break up with josh?!) also the ending with kitty. (she sent the letters?!) it was all so unexpected and i loved that.
after they began “dating” for a few months, i knew it was going to be peter. he was such an unexpected character and the two of them are so different, but they fit and match perfectly. lara jean and josh were like strawberries and oranges – both fruit, but don’t compliment each other; lara jean and peter were like strawberries and bananas – different, but they’re fantastic together. peter would do so many little things that are just so adorable. one of my favorite parts was when lara jean hangs out with peter and his friends after school. they pick her up and call her ‘large’ and can’t stop laughing. she mentions that for once, she felt like she belonged, unlike with josh and margot where she sometimes felt invisible.
another part i really liked was when they went to the estate sale. peter was late and he brought donuts for her and it was just sooooo cute. i was touched the second time he did that, but lara jean didn’t get to eat them because she was being an idiot and refused to sit with him on the bus.
the halloween scene was also super cute. they go to lara jeans house and have a little dance thing and i just wanted to squeal.
i’m so glad we got to see some of the notes he sent her (especially that last one). i felt like the notes had a huge impact on their relationship. i also loved that kitty approved and loved him as well. it showed that he actually was a good person and lara jean wasn’t just falling for his charms.
okay, let’s talk about the so-called perfect sister, margot. personally, i didn’t like her at all. i felt like lara jean praised her too much and forgot that she, herself, is an individual person too. lara jean is different from margot and it seemed like everyone knew that except lara jean. she was always going on about how she had to be a “good big sister.” whenever she went out of line, lara jean would think, “margot wouldn’t do that.” since lara jean admired her so much, i expected her to be a much better person. whenever they spoke or video chatted, margot was always so cold and annoying. she didn’t act like the “good big sister” lara jean was always going on about. margot didn’t acknowledge anything of their own and i felt like she was constantly pointing fingers. she would say stuff like, “junior year is the most important year,” or, “you need to try out for clubs and get internships.” i’m sure lara jean knows that, margot; let lara jean live her life, goodness gracious. margot was also “looking out for lara jean” when she told her dad that she had sex (when she didn’t!). that was out of hand, margot. besides, you’re one to talk since you did have sex with josh then broke up with him.
kitty, on the other hand, was just so great. she started off as a stubborn little girl, then grew into someone much more mature. i never would’ve guessed kitty sent out the letters. i knew she was sneaky and clever, but WHAT?! i originally thought someone at the goodwill sent them out. kitty is so adorable and fierce. she knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. i loved how the book emphasized on the sisterly love and support. there are so many that make the siblings argue and despise each other and i love how this book shows the opposite.
lara jean was a very frustrating character to read from. she’s very naïve and gullible. when gen told her the rumor peter was supposedly spreading, she believed her right away. lara jean, you know what kind of person gen is; why would you ever believe her? i knew she was lying, then lara jean went on and ignored peter. (and after that, we never knew if they got back together) it all started with her believing gen. right from the start, she should’ve confronted peter. lara jean also has this terrible habit of running away from her problems. she tried running away from her problems with josh. you can’t do that; you’re already a junior in high school. you should be old enough to face your problems. how is it even possible that lara jean actually thought she could avoid josh forever (and randomly) after everything? he’s (kind of, not really) dating her sister and they’re neighbors. they were also best friends. you can’t just do that. she’s was also incredibly oblivious. how could she not catch on that josh liked her? so so frustrating!
overall, i felt like book was very unrealistic. not the setting or the characters, but the way they responded and acted. it just seemed so fictional. it wasn’t like a rainbow rowell book where everything is so relatable. it reminded me more of a stephanie perkins type of book where you know that *probably* doesn’t happen in real life. it’s more interesting, yes, but it’s probably not likely to happen. in my opinion, you read this book for the story, not the actual content. the writing was also very childish. lara jean addressed people like, “joshy,” and, “daddy.” it frustrated me in more ways to count, but it was so adorable.
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“i don’t want to be owned by anyone. or belong to anyone.” – peter, page 190
“‘do you think there’s a difference? between belonging with and belonging to, i mean?’ ‘sure. one implies choice; the other doesn’t’” – lara jean and peter, page 190
“because by the time you finally see each other, you’re catching up only on the big things, because it’s too much bother to tell about the little things. but the little things are what make up life.” – lara jean, page 294
“and i’m certain, i’m suddenly so certain that everything is exact the way it’s supposed to be, that i don’t have to be so afraid of good-bye, because good-bye doesn’t have to be forever.” – lara jean, page 355