Book Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

black pen on white book page

Synopsis

Lara Jean Covey writes secret letters to her crushes and hides them in a box under her bed. One day, the box goes missing and all the letters get sent out. Sure enough, all of her crushes come to confront her. Not only did the letters express her love for each individual guy, but they detail when and why she stopped liking them, and they are full of embarrassing confessions from years ago. What comes from this nightmarish scenario leads to even more complications in Lara Jean’s life than she thought she already had, and she must learn to deal with the impending relationships and chaos that unfold.

Review

I had a lot of thoughts while reading this book. Like most people, I watched the Netflix adaptation first and that’s how I came to learn about the book and series. The movie was very cute and I thought the book would be a fun, easy read. It was, and yet I couldn’t relate to anything at all in this book.

Lara Jean is not a character who does things, so much as react to things; she is not a character who develops noticeably throughout the story, either. She isn’t her own person yet (I guess that’s normal for being sixteen years old?) and leads a very predictable life; she’s built up a bubble around herself without even realizing it, until her older sister Margot moves out. For reasons I cannot fathom, this now makes Lara Jean the head of the household.

I didn’t understand why Margot, Lara Jean and Kitty had to constantly bend over backwards to keep their dad afloat (cooking, cleaning, not bothering him with their problems). He is the parent, so that should be his job. Nothing I saw indicated that he was in need of this endless help from his young daughters; no depression or mental health issues from the mother’s death, no illness or anything of that nature which would render him incapable of parenting. Because of that, I felt it was a bit of a stretch to justify why the girls had to do so much for/because of him.

While I enjoyed Peter’s character in the movie, reading his behavior in detail in the book was concerning to me. The Peter’s of the world are not the ones girls/women should be encouraged to be around. It irked me that despite multiple people telling Lara Jean that Peter was not a good guy, based on evidence that was clear as day, she continued to stay with him and ultimately develop feelings for him.

I couldn’t help but think that this book would have been more powerful if Lara Jean had dumped Peter in the end.

Maybe the next two books in the trilogy will show more character growth for Lara Jean, hopefully leading to more standing-up-for-herself moments that are not rooted in her feelings for a guy?

What I’m saying is: this is a very cute, fluffy read that will be enjoyable if you aren’t analyzing it while reading. For English majors such as myself, this is nearly impossible and it impacts my reading of most books. I brought this book along on vacation last week and that was the right setting for me to read it in. But after finishing it I started to mull over some of the things I took issue with and thus this blog post was born.

What About You?

Have you read To All the Boys yet? What did you think?

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