To All the Boys I've Loved Before
By Jenny Han
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Source: LibraryTo 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.
Review: As a major fan of Jenny Han, I was dying to get my hands on her latest release. Not only is the cover gorgeous, but I loved the idea of a girl writing personal love letters only to have them actually mailed to the boys she's loved. Once I started the book, though, I just couldn't connect to the character as much as I wanted to.
When Lara Jean finally gets over her crushes, she writes them a love letter to say goodbye. These letters are sealed and placed in her mother's old hat box, meant for her eyes only. So when the five letters she's written are sent out, Lara Jean has to confront her past crushes and face her past. In the end, though, Lara Jean learns more about herself and those she's loved, and may just be able to change her future along the way.
The premise of this book was so promising. But the one deal breaker for me in any book is the main character. If I don't like the main character, I have a very hard time enjoying the novel. In this book, Lara Jean is 16 years old, but she acts so immature and naive to the point where it was ridiculous. I swear she was a 12-year-old trapped in a 16-year-old body. She had no idea how to really function in a social setting and was clueless when it came to relationships and general teenage behavior. I get that she was supposed to be inexperienced and sheltered, but it got so annoying how naive she was when she pretended to date Peter and tried to understand her sister and Josh's relationship. She just didn't get what it was like being a teenager at all, despite the fact that she was one herself.
The part I really liked about this novel was how unpredictable Lara Jean's story was. I really didn't know what was going to happen to Laura Jean or the boys that she wrote the letters to. Who was she going to end up with? Anyone? During the book, though, I felt like her "connections" with the other guys, like Josh and Peter, were a bit forced and out of the blue. I didn't really buy her relationships with them, especially because she acted more like their little sister than an equal. Her naivety just made it hard for me to picture her in an actual real relationship when the guys seemed to actually act their age. Maybe Lara Jean was so naive because she looked up to her sister so much and didn't know how to act when she was gone, but I just don't think she would have been that clueless.
While Lara Jean wasn't my favorite, I really did enjoy her sisters. They seemed like much more dynamic characters than Laura Jean. Heck, even her promiscuous best friend Chris had more depth than Lara Jean, even though I was annoyed with Chris by the end, both with her behavior and how random her appearances in the novel when she's supposed to be Lara Jean's so called "best friend." Overall, I was really disappointed with how I just couldn't connect with this book. I had expected a lot from Jenny Han and was left feeling uncomfortable with the main character and uninterested in her story.