book review: to all the boys i've loved before

To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

I bought this book because i saw it in a couple of bookstores and the title and cover admittedly captivated my attention. The blurb also sounded quite interesting, so i kept a mental note to scan through some reviews about the book before i bought it. I wasn't too impressed with the reviews to be honest, because many were quite negative. What still encouraged me to buy it was the few positive reviews from Goodreads and also a recommendation from a friend whom i trust to have a great taste in books.

So anyway, let's talk about the book. I'll divide it into three parts; the introduction where i'll elaborate a little bit about what the book is about, the non-spoiler section where i'll review it generally without giving anything(much) away and the spoiler section where i'll basically fangirl or complain, haha.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

The story is basically from the perspective of sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song Covey, a half korean, half American girl who was the second child out of three girls(who call themselves the Song girls). Lara Jean has an older sister, Margot who became the "mother" of the house after their mum passed away when they were young. The Song girls live with their dad, who tries his best to manage three girls all by himself and attempts to keep them attached to their Korean roots through his cooking.

Lara Jean has loved five boys in her life. She has never been in a relationship, but she writes a letter to every boy when she is ready to stop loving him. However, she never intends to post her letters but merely puts them in an envelope, addresses them and keeps them in a special hat. One day, the hat went missing and she later discovers that her letters got posted.

I know it sounds a little bit paradoxical, but I really like how the book is both realistic but somewhat cliche at the same time. Because i'm a few years older than the character, i felt more mature than she was and it allowed me to somewhat reminisce my own past. I thought it was naive of Lara Jean to be able to fall in love with boys so easily, until she was able to write poetic letters about her feelings for them. However, because of this the story became more convincing because she was a teenager who was inexperienced with relationships and hadn't had a mature outlook on what 'love' was yet. In some ways, it was relatable and i absolutely love it when authors are able to make the reader connect with the character like that.
At times it was quite frustrating when she would do stupid things but who doesn't, at that age?

I also enjoyed the various types of personalities among the characters, and the development of most of their roles made me fall in love with the book even more. I'm not sure if it was the sort-of plot or the style of writing, but something about the book kept me reading with that bubbly feeling inside. In other words, it was easy to read and held my attention until the end. I didn't necessarily feel the suspense of constantly wanting to know what happens next, but i did feel excited to continue reading later whenever i took a break. The starting wasn't too captivating, so you just need to keep reading a bit more and you'll probably be attached like i was. All i remember feeling at the end was excitement for the sequel. Unfortunately, i don't think it'll be out for a while since the book itself was published quite recently.

[Spoiler section. Do not read if you plan to read the book]

 I think it was stylish that throughout the entire book, everyone would address her as Lara Jean, and not simply just Lara or Jean. Even though i disagree with half of the things she did(because it seemed too immature, but i probably was too at that age), i really loved her character. After Margot left for Scotland she felt a little lost, but i admired how she still moved on with her life and tries her best to be the new leader around the house. Her hobbies were cute; scrapbooking, knitting, baking, writing about her feelings. Most of the things that i in particular am not very interested in. The fact that she's afraid to drive and does what she can to protect other people's interest above her own(most of the time) makes her more likable.

I think i could relate more to Margot's character though, since she was the eldest and had most of the typical "eldest child" characteristics. I didn't like her very much though, despite being similar in ways. I hate that she broke up with Josh for the reasons that she did(i'm still confused about that, was it because of what her mum advised or was it because she slept with him?) and how she changed a lot after moving. She appeared a little selfish, i guess. Her bond with Lara Jean was fading, and i liked how Lara Jean described about this situation in her thoughts towards the end of the book(see the end of the post for that paragraph). When they made up after their big fight, i thought it was a little too rushed and that part wasn't very convincing to me.

Josh. Josh sounds charming and definitely the type of guy i would fall for, but somewhere along the way i got annoyed at how his feelings changed from being for one Song girl to the other. It was confusing a bit, because at one point i was asking "WHICH ONE, JOSH!?". I really thought he loved Margot to the point that he wouldn't be effected by Lara Jean's letter. I know that he and Lara Jean were also close friends, but i guess i didn't like how he could easily start loving someone else just because they loved him once before. Although the whole point(okay, half of the point) of Lara Jean being with Peter was to show Josh that she didn't love him anymore, it was annoying how Josh got jealous instead. In the end i was still confused on who Josh has feelings for; Margot or Lara Jean.

Peter. Even though he sounded like a jerk sometimes and i dislike a few characteristics about him, I LOVE PETER. It was interesting to wonder if the sweet things he were doing were sincere and real or not, because at one point he seemed to really enjoy being Lara Jean's boyfriend but at another point it was frustrating when he mentions about Genevieve. I loved the fact that somewhere along the road he realised he started liking Lara Jean and was willing to give it a shot with her. And i appreciated how realistic it was that he admitted that he would always want to care for Gen even if he ended up with someone else. It was just very honest, and i was annoyed at Lara Jean for not appreciating his integrity. However, as a girl i guess i understand why she would feel that way, especially after Peter didn't do much to firmly deny the rumours that were spreading around. Of course i wish that he would man up and stand up for Lara Jean, but knowing his character i understand it wasn't so easy. I'm glad Lara Jean finally realised her feelings in the end.

Other characters that i became fond of were Kitty, the dad and Lara Jean's best friend, Chris. I have to say i was shocked when i found out that Kitty was the one who posted the letters, but i liked how mature she became throughout the book. I don't have much to say about the dad and Chris, i guess they were a fine addition to the story.

[End of spoiler section]

In a nutshell, i'm rating this book 4.8 out of 5, because i concede to the fact that it wasn't perfect. However it was the best contemporary book i've read in a while, and i think it was better than If I Stay and Eleanor and Park. I'm not sure yet if i'll do book reviews for those books because i don't think i can remember much. I highly recommend this book to anyone who doesn't mind teenage romance(but not exactly the typical type). It does have its cliche moments, but i think our life has become somewhat cliche anyways. I think you should be at least 14 to read it though, but the best age would be 16+ so that you could relate to Lara Jean more. Enjoy!

A nice paragraph from the book i really liked;

" When someone's been gone a long time, at first you save up all the things you want to tell them. You try to keep track of everything in your head. But it's like trying to hold on to a fistful of sand: all the little bits slip out of your hands, and then you're just clutching air and grit. That's why you can't save it all up like that.
Because by the time you finally see each other, you're catching up only on the big things, because it's too much bother to tell about the little things. But the little things are what make up life."

Yayy, my first book review is done. The next book i'll be reviewing is hopefully Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern, the book i'm currently reading. I can't wait!


  1. OMG I LOVE THIS BOOK ! :D and what i can say is, I FEEEELLLL YOUUU ! i felt exactly what you wrote up there. hee.

    btw, do more book reviews pls. i love 'em ! :D



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2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Kamalia has read 15 books toward her goal of 50 books.