Lara Jean’s life is good. She loves her family and her flaky friend Chris. She’s focused in school and an enthusiastic amateur baker. LJ’s only struggle seems to be boys – but she’s got that figured out too. Whenever she’s crushing on a boy, she writes him a love letter, put it in her hatbox and that’s it. Closure. Until someone sends out all her love letters and Lara Jean has to deal with the consequence of crushes from all the way back to middle school.
What Lara Jean lacks in social status and love experience she makes up for in imagination and baking skills. But when her love letters are posted to their receivers (who were never supposed to know a thing) she has to re-evaluate everything. In a desperate act to hide her crush on her neighbour (and older sister’s boyfriend) Josh, she makes a deal with Peter Kavinsky, the most popular kid in school – who also received a letter – to pretend date. What’s in it for Kavinsky? Revenge on his ex, Genevieve. However, the whole thing spirals when Lara Jean and Peter start getting along and more people are getting involved in their schemes.
Let’s be honest, this isn’t Dickens or Angie Thomas – you won’t get any existential crises solved by reading this book. Instead you get easy entertainment and the chance to meet a very fun and unique family. The problems in Lara Jean’s life, that often seem impossible to overcome, are clearly seen from a teenager’s point of view but that’s kind of the point. Being shy, anxious and not able to talk to boys can’t compare to real world problems of course, but for a young girl, it can feel like climbing a mountain – Everest in size!
I definitely have issues with some of the characters. Peter has his moments but he’s obsessed with his ex and jumps at her bidding – any girl deserves better than that. Josh is a super nice boy but he needs to grow a pair instead of throwing around passive-aggressive comments and feeling superior. Kitty (LJ’s younger sister) is funny but gets everything she wants, is bossy, holds a grudge forever and is often disrespectful – if a 10-year old acted like this in real life, she probably wouldn’t receive that much affection. LJ’s dad however.. is everything. Dad of the century award right there!
I have to say, I feel a few years too old for this story, even though i enjoyed reading it. High school firsts (first party, first boyfriend etc) just seem pretty distant by now (I’m finishing my Bachelor) but for teen girls I think it’s a perfect fit and very relatable. Like I said, I still very much enjoyed this book and I flew through it in a couple of days – as I’m writing this review, I just finished the second book as well and I’m moving on to the final instalment. Let’s go!
I would recommend To All the Boys I’ve loved Before to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance stories with a good mix of cheesy scenes and real coming-of-age problems as well as finally getting a good family representation in YA. Now, if you’re interested in the story but don’t feel like reading you can “cheat” and watch the Netflix movie adaption that came out last year – the trailer is linked below. Enjoy!
Page count: 355
Goodreads rating: 4,1/5