Series : To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Volume : 1
Year Published : 2014
Genre : Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Mood : Light and cute~
Edition : Kindle
# of Pages : 355 pages
Time Spent Reading : 4.4 hours
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
So my preference is for grandiose and thrilling, heavy novels full of high stakes. This one is as far away as one can get from that, but it’s nice to read something a little down to earth once in a while.
This book is just so cute and warm. Light and easy fluff. But there is something distinctive about the characterization. The way Lara communicates with her friends, family, and the boys feels really natural compared to other YA and romance I’ve read. It feels like reading old diaries. Her voice is very convincing as a sixteen year old. Even when things get dramatic it’s a sort of realistic type of drama and not too angsty. I love the main character’s family and their closeness and protectiveness of each other.
When side characters are mentioned, Lara usually expands into smaller storylines and reminisces about childhood memories that add richness to the characters. Also of note is the way romance is handled- Lara Jean is a sort of hopeless romantic whose feelings change across the scope of time and the storyline, but she is capable of making decisions. I thought it came off well and didn’t lead to the traditional type of love triangle.
Then there is the representation. This is the first time I’ve ever read a book with a protagonist having a similar family/life background to myself, a mixed race asian and white girl (and seemingly, having little exposure to other Asians, and minimal exposure to her Asian parent’s culture) who is born and raised in the US. Race is not a major factor in this book by any means but the subtle nods to her background and thoughts seem genuine and on a personal note, almost disturbingly relatable.
I usually rate by two criteria, first being how much I enjoy a book and second being how well I think it accomplishes what it’s trying to do. I think this one is largely perfect at everything it attempted. The way chapters are sorted and proceed make for a fast-paced read. Having a whopping 70 chapters (each being a few pages) makes for quick shifts in time and events but can make the reading experience seem flighty.
My main problem was with a sort of prioritizing of major events. There are many important things that happen near the end and those events seem rushed. The movie actually handled them with better gravity. I think cutting back on some of the light and trivial chapters to expand on the more important ones would have been wise, either that or make the book longer. I’m curious for the sequel though.
Also the little sister- Kitty- LOVED her. So cute. I want her to meet James from the Shatter Me series and the two little ones have their own wholesome adventures in a spin-off series. T_T ❤
Overall Rating – 9/10
Why You Should Try It – Cute, light, and airy without floating away into pointlessness. The characters are genuine and warm. At least read it for Kitty!
Critique – Your mileage may vary of course on how light is too light and the slice-of-life focus is not something I could see myself reading back to back.To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (<- Amazon Link)