Synopsis for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before from Goodreads:
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.
This book was so so wonderful. One of my all-time favorites. It was a bright, delightful read that made me smile every time I picked it up. I loved how it was about the difficulties of relationships in high school, but more so about family, finding oneself, and trying to stay true to that person even when your environment (high school, ugh) tells you you’re different.
I love that Lara Jean is Korean-American and that her heritage came up in small places. I loved her relationships with her sisters. Both Margot and Kitty were such well-developed, three-dimensional characters that jumped off the page immediately, especially Kitty. She made me laugh almost every time she spoke.
“Don’t cry , Daddy,” Kitty orders, and Daddy nods and pulls her into his arms for a hug.
“Can you do me a favor, Kitty?” he says.
“Can you stay this age forever?”
Automatically, Kitty replies, “I can if you give me a puppy.”
I really admire my little sister sometimes. She knows exactly what she wants, and she’ll do whatever it takes to get it. She’s shameless that way.
And the writing is beautiful. A sample passage that I loved which offers a peek at what makes Jenny’s writing so special:
Margot would say she belongs to herself. Kitty would say she belongs to no one. And I guess I would say I belong to my sisters and my dad, but that won’t always be true. To belong to someone—I didn’t know it, but now that I think about it, it seems like that’s all I’ve ever wanted. To really be somebody’s, and to have them be mine.
This book read so much like YA in the best possible way. Some of my favorite “very-YA” quotes:
- This was making a plan getting dropped off, wearing a special bra, all on a Saturday night.
- There are certain outfits you have that make you feel good every time you wear them, and then there are outfits where you wore them too many times in a row because you liked them so much, and now they just feel like garbage. I’m looking at my closet now and everything looks like garbage.
- Isn’t that what every girl has ever wanted, in the history of boys and girls?
This book was exactly what I was looking for at the time: tons of fun that made me laugh, cheer for the romance, and feel all the embarrassment and horror that Lara Jean did when her letters were mailed. What a great premise! Such an interesting hook, and I love how the letters played into the story. I loved that first moment when Lara Jean first realizes that her letters have been mailed, and I loved that they would pop up throughout, and the readers got to see what was written in them. Well-executed hook!
I got so into the characters that I felt just as confused at Lara Jean. I love that Jenny jerked us back and forth in the best possible way between Peter and Josh. I hated Peter one minute then wanted him and Lara Jean to be together the next. I felt what Lara Jean was feeling: a confusing puddle of everything.
And Jenny Han knows how to break our hearts with Lara Jean’s.
“If people knew you, they would love you.” He sounds so matter-of-fact.
Josh, you break my heart. And you’re a liar. Because you know me, you know me better than almost anybody, and you don’t love me.
This book perfectly captured the best of high school: crushes, flirting, butterflies, and the start of relationships. And fashion! I loved the vivid descriptions of Lara Jean’s outfits and her style choices.
This paragraph meant so much to me:
There are very limited options for Asian girls on Halloween. Like one year I went as Velma from Scooby-Doo, but people just asked me if I was a manga character. I even wore a wig! So now I’m committed to dressing up as Asian characters exclusively.
I wish I never have to answer a “What are you?” question again.
I only went trick-or-treating once as a kid (I know, crazy, right?) and I was a black cat so I didn’t have this problem with Halloween, but I remember dreaming about the sixth grade play and wanting the lead but thinking that I would never get it because I couldn’t think of any plays with non-white leads. Disney released Pocahontas around that time and I remember thinking, well at least she has black hair like me. I was so used to being different that this issue didn’t even necessarily feel like a problem to me, just a fact of life.
I love how Jenny Han weaved Korean food into the book and used it to stir up memories of the girls’ late Korean mother.
I don’t know if Kitty will remember eating these rice balls, but I hope that her heart will.
I started the sequel, P.S. I Still Love You, immediately after finishing this book because it’s a direct continuation, and I had to know more. I wished in the moment that To All The Boys I Loved Before wrapped up a little more, but in retrospect given the length of the two novels and with the storyline of the sequel, the ending makes sense. I think I just loved the book so much that I wanted more regardless of how it ended! Luckily, there was more!
And the sequel didn’t disappoint. I love Lara Jean’s relationship(s) so much and felt like I knew the characters so well that I found myself anticipating their reactions to certain events and being giddy with anticipation for how it would all play out. I don’t want to say too much about P.S. I Still Love You because it does give away a little bit of the first book (which is why I didn’t even paste the synopsis here), but I’ll just say that if you enjoyed the first book, definitely pick up the sequel. If you do read the synopsis, I felt that it wasn’t the best representation of the story. If you’re turned off by the idea of a love triangle, don’t worry, I didn’t feel this was a “love triangle” book. The book is mostly about Lara Jean navigating her teenage life and first real relationship, and it’s full of teenage worries and swooney romance.
Toward the last few chapters of both books, I clutched them to my chest and said to my husband, “I don’t want this to end!” They were such a fresh breath of air, and I loved the time I spent in Lara Jean’s world. I am a huge fan of Jenny Han!
*squeal!* Coming 4/4/17!