By Jenny Han
Rate: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
You’ve liked five guys in your life. One was gay, one lives in Indiana or Montana or some place, McClaren moved away before anything could actually happen, one was dating your sister. And then there’s me.
I’d say 3.75 but I’m not that kind of person so 3.5.
Lara Jean Song Covey is our protagonist, an American-Korean 16 year old girl. Her mother’s death was in the most contemporary way (and I’m kind of glad), her father is an obgyn, and she is the second daughter of three girls–they call themselves the Song girls.
Just as junior high starts, her hat hatbox is lost and all five letters (a goodbye-like letter apparently) she had written for all the boys she loved was lost and got sent to all five of them: Kenny Donati, whom she met in church camp, John Ambrose McClaren, a classmate in middle school, Lucas Krapf, who turned out to be gay (and was really sweet), but we will focus on the two guys: Josh Sanderson, and then there is Peter Kavinsky.
S P O I L E R S
Because Lara Jean did not want to let Josh know she loves him, and to save face, she agrees Peter’s proposal to have a fake relationship so they could make Genevieve, that every popular slutty girl at school, who is also popular boy’s gf but-now-ex-gf, jealous. Well guess what happens? You’re correct! They fall in love with each other instead.
Let me start with Lara Jean – I am annoyed by her. Other reviews have said that her voice sounds like a twelve-year-old (reminds me not to check reviews first) and I do agree, she does sound like a twelve-year-old, though it becomes better in the latter part of the book. Another thing I hate about by her is:
Josh Sanderson, I liked you first. By all rights, you were mine
Your feelings does not stamp him as yours, and he is not even an item to be called yours, and he never was yours because he dated your sister!
Josh, you break my heart. And you’re a liar. Because you know me, you know me better than almost anybody, and you don’t love me
?? I know what it means but I just had to stop and read that a few times.
What I love about her is how important family is to her. Margot has flown to Scotland for college and Lara Jean is now the eldest in the house. She now have the responsibilities and burden of her eldest sister and we see her juggle to be independent and to take responsibility of her actions. She tries her best to be an elder sister like Margot to Kitty. As an Asian and the oldest of two boys, I can relate to her very well. Lara Jean and Kitty’s banters do go annoying but I cannot blame them, I also do what Lara Jean does to my siblings.
Hey, I’m sorry I didn’t show up on your doorstep with flowers and profess my undying love for you, Lara Jean, but guess what, that’s not real life. You need to grow up.
Lara Jean is a diligent daughter, she cooks and bakes, does household chores well, reads (and probably watches as GoT was mentioned), knits, and does scrapbooks. She is a homebody you could say, and she only have two close friends. Lara Jean may be confident at home, but she is scared to step out. She is afraid to take the risks, afraid to hurt the people around her, especially when it’s her family. But she musters her courage and tries to be brave. And as someone that is at the same age as her, I can relate to her very well.
Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That’s part of the risk. I don’t want to be scared anymore. I want to be brave
Josh Sanderson – Joshy Joshy Joshy. The childhood crush, the boy next door, her sister’s ex-boyfriend, her crush, her younger sister’s crush. God, Josh is…. like trying to poke a hole on a plastic with your face but failing again and again. He has no flaws at all! He is kind and polite, everyone likes him, he reads Harry Potter, watches Game of Thrones, loves Tolkien, and Korean food. He is a good student and a bit nerdy. Just the boy next door, the guy you want to be friends with, the bestfriend that would protect his girl best friend. I don’t want to hate him, I don’t want to be annoyed by him because he is such sweetie, but that’s exactly why I hate him. I can’t find any holes to poke! He did make out with Margot even though she promised to Lara Jean she wouldn’t have sex with anyone until the age of 21, but did he even know the promise? I read the letter again and again and it did not seem to imply so. He also kissed his ex-gf’s sister, which is a douchey move but I just couldn’t find myself to hate him. After all, Lara Jean did try to break him to his turning point. He sounded genuinely confused and in a daze after finding out her feelings for him.
“The stuff you wrote—you liked me before I ever liked her. Why didn’t you just tell me?” “You should have told me. You should have at least given me a chance.
But the reasons are just so shallow and I couldn’t find anything anymore and I hate him for that (though I feel guilty).
Peter Kavinsky – The last name already gave away what this character is. He is the popular guy with his popular gang that is good at sports. He has this devil-may-care and happy-go-lucky vibe. He is dashingly handsome, the handsome kind that would make all the school girls faint even if he just smirks (insert shiny white teeth). He knows everyone and shakes their hand as though he’s going to run for a chair. He is supposed to have this sarcastic and humorous nature that should make him hot but fell flat for me. You know how there are just male characters that makes you giggle and laugh out loud with their sarcasm and charm and eventually wins your heart? Well Peter is not that. I feel like he is trying to become one but boy, that is totally not happening. It’s just flat and leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
Can you take the bus home today? I want to surprise Kitty and pick her up from school so she can show me and my car off to her friends.
What I like about him was how sweet he is with Kitty (and him calling her Katherine just makes my heart leap) and understand Lara Jean’s responsibilities as an older sister. He becomes a decent man in front of her father and which I found manly for a junior high student. He understands how family is important to Lara Jean and he shows that. I have a soft spot for those kind of guys. He may be an ass at times, even though it’s all pretend and fake, but he still has gentleman manners that must be appreciated and applauded, rare for a character like him.
When you see them up close, you see the real them, but they also get to see the real you. And Peter does. He sees me, and I see him.
Katherine ‘Kitty’ – Yes, I must have a separate one for her. Kitty is Lara Jean’s 10-year-old sister. She’s young but is very mature for her age, even mature than Lara Jean. She reminds me of Trixie from the tv series Lucifer. But the difference is that Kitty holds grudges very well. She is the shy, cute, but the annoying little sister we have.
Peter nudges my sock and mouths spoiled, and he points at me and Kitty, shaking his finger at us.
Kitty barely knows her mother, and so Margot and Lara Jean were her mothers that she had known. While Kitty knows how to iron and do laundry already at the age of ten (I barely washed dishes when I was her age), I do agree that she’s been spoiled to some extent. She snoops around her sisters’ belongings and messes with the things that she doesn’t have any business with. That is completely a no-no, even if your sister tried telling your crush that you have a crush on him. If I was Lara Jean, I would take away her beloved dog. All the shit she went through because of all that. But that also shows Lara Jean’s progress to becoming the older sister she always wanted to be. Applause to her.
“It’s all right,” I say, and she sags against me in relief. “You can keep the box. Put all your secrets in it.”
Margot – Lara Jean’s older sister. She’s responsible, organized, brave, best at everything, the sister that overshadows Lara Jean, the sister that Lara Jean seeks for approval and opinion, and the sister that would puts her family and sisters first before herself. She replaced her mother’s role and wore its burden and responsibilities proudly at the age of 13. But everything changed when she flew to Scotland for college.
“Just because you had sex with Josh, that doesn’t mean I’m going to have sex with Peter.”
What irked me was that the subject about Margot making out with Josh. It’s said the two sisters made a pact to not have sex until they are 21 or/and married. What annoyed was not because they made out but that she broke their pact and no one seemed to care! The subject was skipped over, it would reappear near the end but they wouldn’t even talk about it!
And then Margot gets angry because Lara Jean kissed Josh. They already broke up! Yes, I know it’s gross, and I know Margot still loves him but she doesn’t have to say that to their dad!
“No, you definitely don’t know me anymore, if you think for one second that I would have sex on a school trip! In a hot tub, in plain view of anybody who might happen to walk by? You must not know me at all!”
This basically sums up my reaction. Lara Jean, after all, is the innocent, pure and quirky girl.
I picked To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before without any idea of what it was about. I thought PS I Love You was the first book (and a standalone) until I checked it here in goodreads. I was thrilled to find the protagonist an American-Korean as I am fond with anything Korean related.
All in all, the book was great. After all those gore and lore I’ve been reading (and writing), I found the first few chapters boring. The thrill and pace of the fantasy books that I have become accustomed to was gone. I had to remind myself I was reading contemporary, and it’s been ages since I’ve read one. I had to adjust: leaving it for weeks and picking it up again. I was annoyed the first half of the book to Lara Jean, but then eventually softened. I flew over the pages and finished everything in two days.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a story about family, trying to find your footing, and trying to pull that thread called bravery–something all teenagers would relate to. To sum it all up:
“You know what Mommy would always say to me?” She lifts her chin higher. “ ‘Take care of your sisters.'”