My slight (okay, not so slight) obsession with the Burn for Burn series, written by Siobhan Vivian and Jenny Han, led me to check out Han’s latest novel, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. It proved to be the perfect remedy for dealing with the long wait for the final Burn for Burn novel, Ashes to Ashes. Han has a way of creating characters that feel real and nuanced. With To All the Boys, she does that and more.
Lara Jean has written a letter to every boy she has ever loved. From that fleeting middle school crush to the boy who she shared her first kiss with, she has waxed poetic on her feelings for them on paper, sealed them, and placed them in her mother’s hat box to stay. No, she has no plans to send these letters to her former loves. In fact, they’re more of a personal therapy to help her move on from a crush.
Therefore, Lara Jean freaks out when all her love letters are mysteriously mailed out. Now, Lara Jean finds herself in a tricky situation, where she finally finds herself, not just confronting boys, but also her feelings.
I found Lara Jean so refreshing due to her innocence and naivety. I think most YA contemporary romances have a lead character that is familiar with love, sex, relationships, etc. But with Lara Jean, for being seventeen, she’s decidedly new to these experiences. While she has no problems with falling in love, she does have issues with actually doing something about it, rather than literally writing them off.
The fear of intimacy and putting yourself out there is definitely something that is terrifying for someone in their teens. (Hell, it’s even scary as an adult.) I found that so interesting to read in a character as sweet, girly and composed as Lara Jean. She’s not hiding behind a tough girl exterior or a messed-up dystopian society. She’s just an average girl, navigating the school, family, friendships and ultimately relationships.
It’s also worth noting how I love the little things that are added to describe Lara Jean and her personality. Her quirky fashion sense was so much fun to read about, and her baking recipes had me salivating. These added touches made Lara Jean feel more real to me and frankly just adore her even more.
Seeing how Lara Jean progresses throughout the novel is rewarding right until the very end. Yet… I found out after a quick (and desperate) Google search, that isn’t the very end. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the first book of a duology. P.S. I Still Love You is the name of the sequel that will release sometime next year. (Ugh, TOO far away if you ask me.) While the ending of To All The Boys was quite perfect, it does leave you wanting more. Lara Jean finally makes her move and how can we not see what happens next?
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han is now available wherever books are sold.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 15, 2014)
Length: 368 pages (Hardcover)
Series: To All The Boys – Book 1
Source: Hardcover, 1st Edition
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Completed: April 2014