Thursday, August 3, 2017

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

Synopsis of this book from Goodreads:
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once? 

Sixteen-year-old 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.

So I thought I would separate what I liked and what I didn't like about this book just for fun because what is life without fun?

Things I liked:

1) I liked how
aesthetically pleasing this book is. I love how Lara Jean likes scrapbooking by keeping little things (I do the same) and going to the diner for grilled cheese and always sitting at the same table and having cute little rituals for that specific restaurant. I liked how she was sensitive and a total introvert; a lot of people said that she acts like a total child when she's sixteen and I didn't find that at all. You're allowed to keep some of your childhood rituals as coping mechanisms as you grow up you know, assholes.

2) I liked how close the Song sisters are. They're super cute and they all look out for each other, but I sensed a total impending rift between Lara Jean and Margot and I really hope they address the elephants in their room in the other two books of the series; more specifically, the obvious foreshadowing of Lara Jean saying they were never looking for a replacement mother, yet that's all Margot ever does for Lara Jean and Kitty. Family drama and I'm here for it.
3) I liked the history between Josh and Lara Jean. I liked how close they are as neighbors and friends and that there's a bit of uncleared smoke between them. It was interesting. This was also left unresolved so I'm looking forward to more in the sequel(s).
4) I love how snarky yet cute Kitty is. She's a quirky little sister character and is well written.
5) I LOVE CHRIS! She's such a sassy supporting sidekick who doesn't take shit from everyone. I love her friendship with Lara Jean.
6) To All the Boys I've Loved Before is very well written, so I must commend Jenny Han for that. She's a great writer, and that made reading this all the more enjoyable.

Things I didn't like:
1) I didn't really get why the girls' father was so absent. I get that he works in a hospital and has three girls all by himself so he obviously needs Margot and Lara Jean to help out a little more than other families, but both of them (especially Margot) go above and beyond when it comes to helping out and their dad just seemed so oblivious and absent from everything... I thought it was kind of strange.
2) I thought the character of Genevieve was super underdeveloped. For someone who Peter supposedly has a lot of romantic history with, and for someone who both Peter and Lara Jean spend a lot of time discussing, I really didn't feel like I knew the character all that well. She was weakly written. I often forgot that Genevieve and Chris were cousins who disliked each other too. That whole part could have been better.
3) I thought there was a bit too much teen melodrama at times. I get this is a YA novel which is written for teens and I'm not a teen anymore so I'm relating less and less to some of these books I read (which MAKES ME SAD), but Lara Jean, Josh, Margot, and Peter were all super melodramatic at times and I wanted to tell them to chill out. It's not the end of the world (this isn't so much a complaint as more just something I'm starting to notice as I continue to read YA into my twenties... I'm old now and see what adults meant all those years, *sigh*).
4) Peter seemed to be an asshole most of the time yet this all seemed to be rectified by him being cute around Lara Jean and Kitty? Okay. Seems fake but okay.
5) I was honestly expecting more from the love letter angle. I found we got minimal information about the other boys Lara Jean wrote letters to. I was expecting it to all be laid out at the beginning of the story and we'd know and understand each situation, but no such luck. I found the idea of one's secret love letters not actually written for the other person's eyes being sent out was a really original premise, but it seemed to be merely a vehicle for a teen drama storyline. A lot of missed potential in this area, if you ask me.

I wasn't originally planning on reading the other two books in this trilogy after I finished To All the Boys I've Loved Before, but like I said, this one was very aesthetically pleasing and I'm kind of hooked into what happens in the story and the characters so looks like I'm gonna HAVE to read the other ones now. If you hear a faint thump in the distance, that's just me being trampled to death by my TBR pile. 4/5 stars.

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