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Digital Reads Reviews

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

Digital Reads Reviews is a blog-haven for book posts and reviews. This is a review of a YA romance, To All The Boys I've Loved Before.
Shalini
To All The Boys I've Loved Before
I liked it
4/5

Publication Date: 2016

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Blurb

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.

My Review

To All The Boys I've Loved Before

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han was my first YA romance of 2023. Though published years ago, this book called my name just this week. 

Do you have days when life kicks you down, and all you ache for is some light Young Adult fiction to uplift your mood? Then look no further

A typical romance that you might have seen or read thousands of times but still enthralls you. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han definitely checks all the points.

Lara Jean Song. If you got to know her, you’d realize she was always a bit of a hopeless romantic, who had been in love but never in a proper relationship. She was guileless and still kept love letters in an old hatbox, written to all the boys she has ever been in love with. Those are her secrets. Of course, she would never send them, as they were filled with her many cringy moments and innermost feelings. Believe it!

"They aren't love letters in the strictest sense of the word. My letters are for when I don't want to be in love anymore."

Short Summary

She never had any intention to send the love letters she wrote to boys, but the unthinkable somehow happened, and the letters got sent to all the boys without her knowledge. Now Lara Jean had to deal with the repercussions.

 

And some of the boys let her know they received her letter in the mail, including Josh, the ex-boyfriend of her older sister Margot. Mortified, Lara Jean decided to take a drastic decision to make it clear she was not interested in him and went into a fake relationship with Peter, who too had received a letter from her, written when she had a crush on him. But, voila, to her shock, suddenly, she was part of a crazy love triangle (or actually two).

Maybe the next few pages would show Lara Jean and Peter would discover something more between them, as they slowly got to learn about themselves and each other. You had to read to experience the thrill. It was not truly a love triangle, but there were hints of it—Josh was bland as oatmeal, and Peter was utterly charismatic.

The Hook

I had to say here that this was my new romance genre for this year, and I did not expect to enjoy this book so much. I thought it would be an unenthused attempt at a romantic story, something that was destined to be a quick read before I got to my thrillers. 

But I was so wrong! I became inexplicably hooked on to this book and could read it in one sitting.

 

The Characters

Lara Jean was such a relatable introverted person. Her innocence was adorable, and every emotion she experienced in this book somehow seemed to be projected back onto me as I savored every word of her story.

I had never written a love letter, and even in my awkward teen years, I stayed away from pouring my feelings on paper. But there was a moment shown here where, in one of her letters, probably when she was very young, the lines were so gauche that I could feel her flinching when it was being read out to her. I had to smile at seeing her reaction. Oh, to be so young. But that was the character who was Lara Jean.

The Intricacies

Romance might have been driving the plot, and I was certainly compelled to want to who Lara Jean would ultimately end up with, but it was really the relationship between the three sisters that made this book so amazing. 

There’s flawless Margot, dreamer Lara Jean, and sweet-yet-bratty Kitty, who all worked hard to keep their family together after their mother’s death. And their relationship with their dad was very sweet. I loved that he was cool yet so very caring. 

The book had the sisters baking special Christmas cookies, lying to their dad about the quality of his Korean food, even dancing a crazy dance they had choreographed that ended in splits.

Once Margot left for college in Scotland, it was all up to Lara Jean to bind her dad and sister together and take over all of Margot’s responsibilities with a bit of seriousness and loads of fun.

I never expected this plot twist in a romance. And it definitely made the story and added a layer to it. A book I had expected to be all about her letters, behold the title “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” And most of the storyline was related to letter writing. But it wasn’t all so. It took another turn deeper into the realms of clichéd romance that worked so well and gave it the added nuance.

The Setting

The minute details made the family seem real and so the book’s most important scene, where my heart was in my mouth was not about who was kissing whom but rather the moment when the tension finally broke between Margot and Lara Jean, and I could take a huge sigh of relief.

The Pace

I could finish it within a day, so I found the moving fast in the entire book. 

The style of writing - The Prose

I could identify with the writing easily, as the entire book had this fresh love vibe to it. Every word that came from Lara-Jean’s mouth was steeped in innocence, which is partly why I loved it so much. It brought me back to my teen crushes and my own mortifying experiences of declaring my love. A life incident that you might have had or probably still (or would) have in the future.

How it made me feel

was completely immersed in the life of Lara Jean and in the end, I was so sad to be done with the book. It was such a well-written and brilliant story. it might be said that at this age and time, Lara Jean sometimes seemed too naïve and rather innocent for a 16-year-old, but in many ways, this made her more realistic than many of the dark, over-smart YA stories that lined the book shelves.

There is a sequel, actually two sequels, to this book, and I am sure it is going to be vital for me to read it. Stories like this leave me aching for more, so expect a review or two in the near future.

"We are sisters, and there's nothing she or I can ever say or do to change that."

Do I recommend this book?

Yes. Of course. 

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is an unexpected good story that outshines its first impression, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it when you’re in the mood to cuddle up with a good and sweet book. Maybe create a fall-like weather with hot chocolate and a soft blanket?

To end, I am compelled to say To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a romantic standalone that you need to read once in your life! I sure did.

Regardless of its so-called flaws, all of us will likely be so swept up in the romance we can read past any of them.

I downloaded the digital version of the book from an online retail, and this is my journey down its pages, straight from the heart. STRICTLY HONEST and UNBIASED.

If you’ve loved the review, buy me a cuppa to perk me up.

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