To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, #1)

First Lines: I like to save things.  Not important things like whales or people or the environment.  Silly things.  Porcelain bells, the kind you get at souvenir shops.  Cookie cutters you’ll never use, because who needs a cookie in the shape of a foot?  Ribbons for my hair.  Love letters.  Of all the thins I save, I guess you could say my love letters are my most prized possession.

I know it’s a lot for first lines, but I think it really starts to get at Lara Jean’s character, and I think a lot of us can relate to it.  (I know I can; I’ve been called a pack rat on more than one occasion.)

This is the story of Lara Jean, a girl who has always been too afraid to admit her crushes out loud.  Instead, she writes her crushes letters to get the feelings out of her system and seals them.  But one day, Lara Jean finds the letters missing.  Someone has mailed them to these boys, and now they’re all coming for Lara Jean for answers.  All her crushes are coming back: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, and her sister’s ex-boyfriend.  While Lara Jean learns to face her past head on, she also learns that maybe it wasn’t a bad thing that these letters were mailed…

So I want to ‘fess up to something before I start.  I have written letters to boys I’ve loved before.  Thankfully, I have never sealed them in envelopes or addressed them the way Lara Jean does.  (Which, honestly, makes me think she was just asking for trouble that way.)  Mostly, though, my letters come when I’m most frustrated or disappointed or angry with that boy, so I wouldn’t necessarily call them love letters the way Lara Jean does.

On with the review.  First of all, I thought this was an interesting perspective to take.  Lara Jean is the middle child out of three girls.  Yikes, right?  But the family dynamic is absolutely huge in this story, and I thought that was pretty neat.  I’m the big sister in my family, so I’m not used to thinking the way Lara Jean does.  Also, the girls are half-Korean, which added a diverse layer to the story that I wasn’t expecting.  Some of the things the girls struggled with were things I never thought would be issues.  (Halloween costumes: are you automatically a manga character simply because you’re Asian?)

I think the plot is highly relatable to many girls (and probably boys as well, but this is a book I don’t foresee too many boys reading).  We’ve all had crushes at one point or another, and this is just Lara Jean dealing with hers all at once.  It’s slightly mortifying at times, but what else is she going to do?

The easiest adjective to describe this book is “cute.”  While it does all of these things well, it’s really just a feel-good fluff read.  Which is fine.  I have absolutely nothing against fluff.  The story just became predictable at times and had some characters that felt flat or stereotyped.  (The mean cheerleader, the boy-next-door, etc.)

The ending is a little abrupt, but I think that has something to do with the next book in this duo.  If you can put up with that, it’s not a too bad of a read.

Overall, it’s a cute read about discovering who you are in all relationships: friends, family, and with boys.

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