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Sunday, June 15, 2014

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

To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Publication.Date:April 15, 2014
Pages:368 (Hardcover)
Published By:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Website:Jenny Han 

To All the Boys I've Loved Before on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Where to get:

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. (Goodreads)

They're not love letters in the strictest sense of the word. My letters are for when I don't want to be in love anymore. They're for good-bye. Because after I write my letter, I'm no longer consumed by my all-consuming love. I can eat my cereal and not wonder if he likes banana over his Cheerios too; I can sing along to love songs and not be singing them to him. If love is like a possession, maybe my letters are like my exorcisms. My letters set me free.
[They are dressed like Harry Potter characters for Halloween] Walking backward, Josh points his wand at me and says, "Expelliarmus!"

Automatically, I point my wand back at him and say, "Avada Kedavra!" Josh clutches his chest like I've shot him.

"Way harsh!"
This is the moment I realize I don't love him, that I haven't for a while. That maybe I never did. Because he's right there for the taking: I could kiss him again; I could make him mine. But I don't want him. I want someone else. It feels strange to have spent so much time wishing for something, for someone, and then one day, suddenly, to just stop.
I've never gotten a love letter before. But reading these notes like this, one after the other, it feels like I have. It's like . . . it's like there's only ever been [him]. Like everyone else that came before him, they were all to prepare me for this. I think I see the difference now, between loving someone from afar and loving someone up close. When you see them up close, you see the real them, but they also get to see the real you. And [he] does. He sees me, and I see him.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before is an adorable story. We are immediately introduced to the dynamics of Lara Jean's family: Margot, her elder sister who will be going to Scotland for her freshman year of college; Kitty, their nine-year-old sister; Josh, their neighbor and Margot's boyfriend; and their father, an OB-GYN. Their mother died about five years ago and Margot took up the role of the mother figure.

A few days after Margot's departure, Lara Jean's goodbye love letters (she only writes these letters when she's no longer in love with their subject) get mailed out. Peter Kavinsky, an only friend from middle school, is the first to confront her. Naturally she is mortified, especially since Josh was sent a letter as well.

Lara Jean is an amazing narrator. Her voice is strong, clear, and age appropriate. She admits, to the reader anyway, when she is lost and unsure of what to do. She debates with calling Margot for help, but states that she cannot always lean on her sister and needs to be more independent. And she does. Lara Jean really comes into her own throughout the novel and you can see her character development.

Aside from the romantic relationships, Jenny gives us a healthy amount of Lara Jean's family life as well. Her younger sister Kitty is your quintessential younger sister. She hangs out with her sisters, but if you tease her too much she holds the biggest grudge and usually has to be bribed into forgiveness with sweets. Her "hints" about wanting a puppy are also pretty amusing.

The last few chapters are amazing - not that the prior chapters are anything less. The way Jenny handles the intriguing and tense situations she puts these characters in to is nothing short of wonderful. While one of the major issues is resolved within To All the Boys I've Loved Before, another begs for closureThank goodness there is a sequel, because . . . for real Jenny? That ending? That last line? Come on now. (No, it wasn't a bad ending, just exceptionally open ended.)

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