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

Title: To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Pages: 352
Source: ALA Midwinter

Summary from Goodreads:
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.


Honestly, this book wasn't quite what I was expecting given the synopsis. Sure her *5* "love letters" get mailed out but I think the part about "causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters" and "she learns to deal with her past loves face to face" is an exaggeration. There wasn't a whole lot of confronting going on, or dealing with past loves. 

Truthfully this story is about two boys; one she thinks she loves, and one she pretends to love. When Josh, her long-time best friend and sister's ex-boyfriend, gets one of her letters, Lara Jean saves face by pretending to be in a relationship with Peter, her first kiss and now popular boy. Peter of course agrees to be in a pretend relationship with Lara Jean to make his ex girlfriend jealous. And in this pretend relationship, Lara Jean has all sorts of new experiences and discovers all sorts of new feelings. 

But despite feeling a little deceived and a little disappointed, I still liked this book. And here's why:
  • After I got over my initial shock that this one wasn't quite what I expected it to be, I thought I had the plot line figured out, but found myself surprised again at the direction this book took. But this time in a good way. 
  • Lara Jean's family is amazing and has a super close bond. After losing their mother Lara Jean and her two sisters, Margot and Kitty make sure to take care of their father. They all take really good care of each other and have an amazing relationship. But then Margot hops the pond to go to school in Scotland and Lara Jean has to step up and the family has to settle into a new routine. It was great to observe. 
  • The battle of the boys was fun. Peter and Lara Jean couldn't be more opposite so it was interesting to watch them try to fake a relationship. And the complicated dynamic with Josh kept  me wondering too. 
  • Although I couldn't exactly relate to Lara Jean, she is shy and a little boring, I liked watching her come into her own, and step out of her comfort zone a bit. 

Anyway, I picked this one up because I wanted to read a light contemporary and that is exactly what I got. This is a cutesy book, maybe even a little silly, but has a solid storyline. I'm not sure how well it will hold up against other contemporaries, but it's worth giving it a shot. 

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