To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before: Jenny Han

Recently I finished up To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, a fluffy and light quasi-romance quasi-slice of life by author Jenny Han, who’s also written books like The Summer I Turned Pretty and Burn for Burn (neither of which I have read.)

I’ll admit that I picked up this book for two primary reasons: 1. It looks like a fun and easy-going novel, and after reading about Lada’s conquests and heartbreaks, needed a break, and 2. this novel features a protagonist who is mixed, both South Korean and white, and her cultural heritage is a big part of her personal identity. I like that, because the author includes a lot of tidbits of Lara Jean’s life that feature her South Korean side.
Anyways, the story follows Lara Jean’s societal downfall: for years, she’s been writing letters to the boys that she has crushes on and leaving them sealed and ready to deliver in a box (which is a terrible idea, Lara Jean, you’re basically asking for this to happen to you.) Predictably, the letters get sent out, and she is mortified. Especially since one of these crushes is her sister’s longtime boyfriend, Josh.

I was pleasantly surprised because I thought that Josh would be the love interest, but instead, she coaxes an old, but distant friend, Peter Kavinsky, into pretending to be her boyfriend– which is cliched, I’ll admit. She and Peter draw up a contract, where he’ll help her convince all these old boys (especially Josh) that those were just silly letters that meant nothing, and in return, Peter (who was actually one of the recipients, but who Lara Jean used to know very well) gets to show off to his old ex-girlfriend, Genevieve, that he is completely and truly over her. Of course, they start to fall in love.

So I will admit that the plot is extremely predictable. Lara Jean and Peter start developing feelings for each other, and the two main conflicts are Josh’s reaction to his letter and Gen’s reaction to Peter’s new girlfriend (it’s not a good one.) So go somewhere else if you’re looking for a new and exciting tale that’ll take you to waters never traveled and places never discovered, because this is not it.
This book, however, is easy and entertaining. It’s a fun read for a rainy evening, not something serious. So if you’re looking for something to chill with, then you should try this book out. The language isn’t complicated, the plot isn’t complicated, the romance isn’t complicated. But it’s fun.

Oh, let me talk really quickly about one part of this book that I really enjoyed: Margot, Lara Jean, and their family’s relationship. They’re a really tight-knit unit, and the interesting thing is that (if I remember correctly,) their mother was the Korean one, while their father is white. However, their family is very Korean– possibly because their father wants to make up for their mother’s loss. It’s an interesting take on grief, and also a look into the life of single father-hood.

I’ve read quite a few reviews that ridicule Lara Jean for being “childish” and “innocent,” and refer to her as “privileged.” I’m just going to say: not every character has to be some super serious, world-changing hero. Nor does every female character have to be a badass, butt-kicking superwoman. It’s okay to read books that are silly and it’s okay to have heroines that are silly, because life does have quite a few silly moments. Life isn’t all sadness and darkness and despair, fighting against the system and dystopian vigilante justice. Life is also roses and first loves and embarrassment, and ice cream and kittens and crushes. So sit back and enjoy this book and don’t take yourself too seriously.
I really liked the story. Maybe you will, too. 🙂

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