Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han


Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Goodreads 
Release date: April 15th, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Series: Yes, #1 in the To All the Boys I've Loved Before duologoy
Source: Purchased
Length: 360 pages
Rating: A two-sitting, one evening read! Sisters, first love, second love, and lots of cuteness.

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Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

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.



This was my first Jenny Han book, and I have to say, I really adored it. It wasn't at all what I was expecting. In fact, I'd say the synopsis is quite misleading. It's less about her secret crushes becoming un-secret and more about her fake dating one of her past crushes, which is, yes, caused by the letter sending. But mostly this book is about sisterhood, what love really is, and Lara Jean's really awesome wardrobe, personality, and baking skills.

Seriously, this book is so pretty. I picture Lara Jean's life looking a lot like Pinterest (or like the SUPER GORGEOUS cover). I want to step inside this book and live in Lara Jean's beautiful, quirky home. I was a bit dubious of this book in the beginning, thinking it might be too tell-y or the writing might be too choppy, but I started to fall in love with dreamy-eyed Lara Jean, who is funny and quirky and so relatably flawed. I loved her complicated bonds with her responsible older sister, Margot, and her firecracker baby sister, Kitty. 

Their mom died six years ago, and Margot basically keeps the house together. But now Margot's leaving the country to go to college, and everything's going to change. Including Margot's relationship with their neighbor, Josh, who's basically a part of the family. When she breaks up with him, everything gets screwed up... especially as Lara Jean realizes the feelings she had for him before he started dating her sister never quite disappeared. And then Josh gets a love letter written by Lara Jean, and then everything between them really falls apart. In order to save face and not ruin her relationship with Margot, Lara Jean pretends to date Peter, another receiver of a love letter.

Peter. Charming, funny, handsome, slightly vain Peter, who I do adore thee. Fake dating for reasons is one of my favorite of all romantical tropes. Fake dating where the lines get crossed and maybe it turns into real dating but you're just not sure? It's catnip to me. I wish the synopsis had mentioned that, because I would have jumped all over this even faster. Lara fakedates Peter to force things with Josh to return to platonic, and Peter fakedates Lara to make his ex jealous, but Peter was also Lara's first kiss way back when, so Feelings May Still Linger. And I love it.

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The book isn't perfect, but it's all so fun and cute and I ust adore Lara Jean to pieces, so I didn't much care. The plot is ever so slightly unfocused, and not much is actually don't with the love letters themselves. The Genevieve character could have had a little more development to make her somewhat less of a mean girl cliche. And I do wish books would stop treating a girl having sex as the very worstthing a girl could do.

Also I knew all along who it was who sent the letters, but it was also the person it should have been. This book is just so cute. I want to squish up Lara Jean Covey and her adorable family in a big hug. And Peter, adorable Peter, being charming and making cookies and learning how to not be a jerk.  But my favorite element by far was the sisterhood. I don't have any sisters, but I've always loved reading about them, how complex and loving and jealous and supportive they can be. The family dynamics at play in this book were just gorgeous. And Kitty is the funniest, more fiery nine-year-old ever.

This book just made me happy. It was an absorbing and fun read. It made me swoon. At parts it was exquisite, perfectly detailing Lara Jean's complicated and shifting emotions. At other moments it made me giggle from the banter and the cute. Watching Lara Jean sort out her fears, expand her narrow world, figure out how she feels about Josh, and realize there's more to certain people (including herself( than she thought... well, it was just a real treat. I'm so glad I took a chance and bought this book. It was beautiful inside and out.

OH MY GOD. AS I WAS FORMATTING THIS, I CHECKED GOODREADS AND FOUND OUT IT'S A DUOLOGY. THIS IS TREMENDOUS NEWS. LET US CELEBRATE WITH SOME LARA JEAN-MADE COOKIES.

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21 comments:

  1. Ugh, I really need to read this book but I need to catch up on a few series before the final books come out, which is happening within the next few weeks. However, that is for sure the next book picking up when that happens. I hadn't realized it was a duology either! That pretty much just made my day - that along with the gif you choose with cookie monster :)

    Andrea @ Bookish

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    1. Cookie monster and I made much the same face upon finding out there was a second book!

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  2. Ohh I've been looking forward to reading To All the Boys I've Loved Before and now you've made me want to read it even more. I mean fake dating trope!!! and strong family dynamics! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy now. Thanks for the review!

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    1. You're welcome! I hope you love it when you read it :)

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  3. I'm so excited for this one! I'm glad that the writing is as pretty as the cover! And quirky characters and delightful family dynamics and swoon worthy boys! I need to read this one soon! It sounds so so so so good!

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    1. I bought it almost entirely for the cover, but I ended up loving it because of all those things you mentioned. They are my favorite things.

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  4. I'm reading this book right now! It's definitely cute. I love the Coveys and all the different relationships, although I do feel Lara Jean's voice sounds awfully young.

    Lovely review, Gillian!

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    1. I agree, but I kind of love that she sounded young. It suited her character, and she really matures. I hope you enjoy it!

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  5. I'm currently reading this and am thinking all the same things as you expressed in this review! Peter is just so asdfghjkl and I just want to be bffs with Lara Jean! She seems so adorable! And oh, so with you on the fake dating trope! I love it too, it always has the potential to give me all kinds of feels!

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  6. I love the parts in your reviews about ships/boys. I get the same way. :)

    I wasn't going to read this because I feared the love triangle, but your review is giving me second thoughts. It doesn't sound too bad?

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    1. It's not preciiiisely love triangley? I found it more to be a messy tangle of emotions with like five different people, which is pretty accurate to teenagehood, I felt.

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  7. I loved this book even though it has flaws! I just finished this book yesterday and I can't get over it. I badly need the second book ughhh asdfghjkl why must authors do this to us?!

    I agree with all you said. I always cringe whenever I encounter a book depicting sex like it's such a bad thing to do. Ugh. I wish authors would stop doing that. Anyway, PETER ASDFGHJKLL <3 Did I mention that I really need the second book? Yes, I did. :D

    And yes yes yes to fake dating! <3 btw, this is also my first book of Jenny Han.

    Awesome review!!! :D take care xo

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    1. Right? It's not perfect, but I still loved it. I'm so glad there's a second but ahhhh I also don't want to waaaait

      Yeah. I wasn't thrilled about the sex thing, but it could have been worse. And yes PETERRRR

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    2. I highly recommend Jenny Han's other books, The Summer I Turned Pretty is absolutely amazing, and definitely work the read.

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  8. Want to- NEED to- read this. NOW. GAH! That's all. ^^

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  9. Well, I was a bit unsure about this book just by reading the synopsis, but then other reviews and now yours... I feel like I need a cute and adorable read, and a quirky main character that bakes might have just sold it for me!
    Great review, Gillian!!

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    1. Thank you! I really loved Lara Jean and her quirkiness. She's a bit naive and immature and super adorable. Plus she BAKES! I hope you like it if you get to it :)

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  10. I NEED TO FREAKING READ THIS! GAH! *begins hitting one self for not owning this*

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  11. It's a duology? There's going to be another book? Hurray! (especially as I was initially like "What? That's it?!" at the end =P) I read the book some time ago and quite enjoyed it, it was really cute and I enjoyed Lara and Peter's interactions as well. Oh, and also the interactions between the sisters. Great review! Glad to hear you enjoyed the novel :)

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