To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (review copy) - Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. One for every boy she's ever loved. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say 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... From Goodreads
Having been such a big fan, generally, of Jenny Han's The Summer I Turned Pretty series, as soon as I saw To All the Boys I've Loved Before (TATBILB), I knew I had to read it. Even before I picked up and read the back. I saw the cover, I saw the author, and I saw the title, and my instant reaction was, "I NEED THIS BOOK!" Thanks to my colleague at work, I was able to get a reading copy from Scholastic, but of course I had to review it, too. And wow! This book is amazing!
When Lara Jean's private, secret get-over-you love letters to all the boys she's previously loved are somehow mailed out, she is mortified. One of those letters goes to Josh, her next door neighbour and her older sister's very recent ex. Another goes to Peter Kavinsky, a guy she was friends with in middle school. After convincing Peter that she is in no-way interested now, they come up with a plan that will help them both. Peter was recently dumped by his ex, Genevieve, and Lara Jean doesn't know how to act around Josh now. So they decide to be each other's fake-girlfriend and boyfriend, to make Genevive jealous, and so Josh doesn't think Lara Jean is actually interested in him. Though she's not quite entirely sure that she's not any more. But as she gets to know him better, Peter turns out not to be the entirely confident, cocky guy she thought he was. And perhaps this has all got a whole lot more complicated than it needs to be.
This book is so cute and adorable! But not in a sickly sweet way. Lara Jean's relationship with her older sister Margot and younger sister Kitty is wonderful, they are all so close! Margot has always been the sensible one,t he one who's organised their lives since their mother died six years ago, and Lara Jean has always depended on her. But now Margot is going away to college, and Lara needs to step up and fill the role - but she's not sure she can. How can she when she's always needed Margot? How can she look after her family and do as good a job as her older sister? And who's going to look out for her now everything is so, so complicated. Kitty is the sweetest, funniest little girl I've ever read. She is so smart, and she has such a quick mouth on her. Sometimes she seems so grown up, and sometimtes so young. I adored her completely.
Then there's Josh, the quintessential boy-next-door who is as lovely as he should be in that role - but so confusing and complicated too! Oh my gosh, the boy causes trouble all on his own! And Peter... well. He was not what I expected at all. And this story when in a direction I didn't see coming. And wow. Wow, wow, wow. I might actually like that guy? Who'd have thought? He actually is pretty sweet under all of the cockiness and mocking. He actually is really - surprisingly - wonderful.
Han's writing style is so much like having a friend talking to you, I was gripped from the beginning. So much of Lara Jean's life is so ordinary, but yet specifically unique to her little family, that even when nothing specifically interesting plot-wise was happening, I was still interested in the day-to-day of her life. I was interested in her, the way she thinks, who she was. She felt like a friend. And you just care about all the ordinary goings on with a friend. Although the stories are very different, the writing styles of TALBILB and The Summer I Turned Pretty series are very similar, and it's that gripping voice-of-a-friend feel that completely absorbs me about Han's writing.
My only complaint about TATBILB, which isn't really a complaint, is that it is so compelling I couldn't put it down. It's a 400+ page book, and I absolutely flew through it. I so wish I had taken my time reading it, made it last over several days rather than just one and a bit. But there were very few things that kept me from reading this book, and then it was only grudgingly that I put it down. I needed to know what was going to happen.
It is now official: Jenny Han is one of my favourite contemporary/romance YA authors. And I am oh-so-happy to hear there will be a sequel! P.S. I Still Love You, which is set to be released in the US in April, but I have no idea about a UK release. All I know is I will be waiting for it with baited breath. I need more Lara Jean and Peter. And I'm pretty sure I need to get started on Han's Burn for Burn series, written with Siobhan Vivian. I can't wait!
Thank you to Scholastic via work for the review copy.
Published: 7th August 2014
Jenny Han's Website