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.
To All the Boys I Loved Before was a cute, quick, predictable read that focused equally on the importance of familial relationships and romantic ones.
The protagonist, Lara Jean, is a sweet, innocent young lady. She had a very young-sounding voice, so I kept imagining her as a twelve or thirteen year old instead of a junior in high school. While her naivety was endearing at first, I never really got the sense that she had matured over the course of the story; she stepped outside of her comfort zone a bit, but given that the book was about moving on and taking more responsibility, I suppose I had expected this to be a bit more prevalent.
The familial aspect of the story was easily my favourite part. I loved how supportive and present Lara Jean’s father was, and how much the sisters cared about one another. From protective, independent Margot who had taken over a maternal role to the adorable younger sister, Kitty, who reminded me so much of the kids that I used to babysit, it was nice to see an authentic portrayal of a close-knit family.
The romance, while sweet, never caused me to become emotionally invested in its outcome. Peter Kavinsky reminded me of a few boys that I went to high school with: endearing at times, but not so overly sweet that his portrayal bordered on wish-fulfillment. His characterization was authentic, and I loved how he was just a regular guy.
My main complaint is that Lara Jean’s best friend, Chris, seemed to only be there to provide her with a semblance of a social life and a female friendship. It was also ridiculously easy to determine who had sent out the letters, but considering the story was more about how Lara Jean dealt with the aftermath than determining who had done it, I didn’t mind too much.
The ending was very open-ended, nicely setting up the next book – and the subsequent love-triangle that I’m sure will follow. I was initially disappointed that To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before wasn’t a standalone, but it was sweet enough that I’m looking forward to reading the sequel when it’s released next year.