AUTHOR: Jenny Han
GENRE: YA, Romance
REVIEWER: Anne Lutz
Yesterday, I devoured Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It’s been sitting on my shelf for a while, and I finally picked it up. The concept is interesting and the cover is simply gorgeous. The book follows Lara Jean after her private love letters (to each of the five boys she’s ever loved) are sent out by accident. There’s a great amount of tension, humor, and a lovable male lead. However, I did find some problems with the book.☆☆
For one, Lara Jean is not a protagonist you fall in love with. At least, I never did. She has her moments, but for the most part, she is incredibly annoying and unsympathetic. I read one review that stated she was unrealistic in her age, which I somewhat agree with. However, I’ve met girls like Lara Jean. Sixteen-year-old girls who always stay far from the edge, disapprove of sex, and complain, complain, complain. She overreacts about every little thing, and the whole time, the reader is rooting for Peter instead of Lara Jean.
Still, I view Lara Jean, not as an unrealistic character, but as an extremely flawed character. It would’ve been nice to root for her a little bit more, but I’ve always enjoyed reading about people who view the world differently than me. Plus, for anyone who’s read Sink or Swim, I was once a big fan of “annoying” main characters. 😉
My favorite aspect of the book, however, was not Lara Jean or her complicated romances or even the overall concept. I’m a huge sucker for sister stories. I loved the close, tight-knit relationship of Lara Jean, her older sister Margot, and their younger sister Kitty. It was a wonderful story of the struggles sister’s go through, especially when they’re close in age, like Lara Jean and Margot.
But while the sister relationship was my favorite aspect of the book, it was also the most disappointing. Throughout the story, Han built up so much tension about Lara Jean’s wavering relationship with Margot. And then, at the end, the conclusion just steamrolled over any realistic resolution. They just magically forgave each other and hugged it out.
Now, I understand that in real life this can happen, but the betrayal was fairly intense. I thought of my relationship with my sister, of my friends’ relationships with their sisters. It felt wildly unrealistic that they’d forgive each other so quickly. It didn’t feel in character, and honestly, it ruined the book a little for me. I just kept thinking…that would never happen. Or, c’mon, give me something!
The book definitely has it’s pros and cons. I loved the writing style—Han has a great way of moving you through the pages at a quick pace. I didn’t love the characters all that much or the resolution at all. But overall, I think it was a good read. I would give it 3 out of 5 stars. If you’re looking for a frustrating character and some good drama, this book is for you.
As a side note, I of course picked up the sequel, too. So far, I really don’t like it. But that’s another story. I’ll probably write a review on that when I’m done. Stay tuned!
Lots of love,