I’m sure, especially looking at the summary and the cover of this book, it looks like just another one of those fluffy, cliche, rom-com books that you would sit and read to pass the time but I promise you, it is so much better than that.
Seeing as a lot of people adore Fangirl I guess I can compare it to that. I preferred this WAY more than I preferred Fangirl, and as you can see in my review of that, I really enjoyed Fangirl. The characters, the writing, the plot development, all lead up to this great piece of work. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying this is a masterpiece that is going to last through time BUT I’m saying it is definitely one of those contemporary romance books that I feel need to be checked out.
Here’s a short summary of the book if I haven’t already convinced you:
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.
If you haven’t already read this book then I strongly suggest getting in on that IMMEDIATELY because it is just that good. I also found out there is a second book in the series (which I already put into my basket ready to be bought in the near future). Now if you wish to not read spoilers then don’t read any more of this review as it will have a lot of spoilers in it.
Now, this is basically you’re typical romantic novel, where there is an obvious couple that will eventually find their ways into each others arms. The problem was I didn’t realize which guy she was going to end up with. My first though was that this book was going to be solely based on these love letters that were sent off “accidentally” (though we later find out it was Kitty which I sort of already guessed), and yet it wasn’t. I also though the whole book was going to be this love-dovey story with a bunch of guys chasing after her, but it wasn’t. It was purely about this family that has lost their mother figure, and the three sisters are now coping with the oldest sister leaving to go all the way to Scotland and the responsibilities it left on their shoulder.
I think the thing that really made this book so vulnerable and beautiful was the way the story of Lara’s family is intertwined with her own life at school. The way she cared about her sisters Margot and Kitty was pure and shown so clearly throughout, even when they were fighting. There were so many enjoyable sides to Lara that I grew to love. I enjoyed her fascination with knitting, and baking and writing. I felt she was a character I could so easily relate to, especially when it came to the way she was such a day-dreamer and tended to find romantic relationships easier to deal with in her head then in front of her in real life.
When Josh was introduced, I thought he was the one she was going to end up with. The perfect “boy-next-door” situation. But instead, he fell for Margot. It was so interesting to see a storyline like that where the protagonist did not end up with the guy she grew up with and knew for years, instead she pined over him as he went through the “typical romantic storyline” with her sister. The way in which he was then confused by her proclamation of being in love with him, at least for me, was his way of coping with the loss of Margot. I mean, it was almost like he could just replace everything he had with Lara.
Peter was my favourite character in this whole book (apart from Lara). You know those times when you fall in love with fictional characters and have to keep shaking your head to know that they’re not actually real but a piece of paper with black ink on it? Yeah that’s what I kept having with him. He was just so REAL. He wasn’t this perfect guy that made you wonder whether he was even human (except in supernatural stories…cause…they’re definitely not human). He had this raw, real feeling to him. The conversation he had between Lara and the way it gradually built up as the story carried on, had me believing it the whole time.
I also enjoyed the way in which it started out. At first it was this “deal” to make the other people in their lives that they thought they liked jealous, and then it became what it was at the end. They were so used to the lie that it became real.
Another touch that was my favourite was the little notes that Peter put in her locker because, trust me the one thing that would woo me is a handwritten letter. Honestly, it is something that I find so meaningful and so precious to me. I normally tend to keep them over actual physical gifts because to me they signify to much more.
I also enjoyed Lara’s fear of driving because TRUST ME, it’s something I struggle with all the time. The way she felt, anticipating the cars driving past and the way she was when she had to even do little tasks, like going to the grocery store and bringing Kitty with her.
The moment I didn’t like was Margot’s return. I mean she, understandably, was the hardest character to get to know because she was the one left with the most responsibility. In a way, she was like their replacement mother. So she built all those years expecting them to always need them and when she left she found out they didn’t need her as much as she though. Also coming back to finding out the guy you love (but also irrationally broke up with) kissed your younger sister, is probably not an easy thing to deal with.
That reminds me, Lara’s father. He was such a lovely character to have in this book. You could tell he was still heartbroken over everything that had happened and yet he still cared so much about his daughters. They were his life. Having such a tough job as it is, delivering babies, he still did the best he could manage and I also liked his relationship both with Josh and Peter.
Language/Style: 8 points
Originality: 8 points
Plot: 8 points
Characters: 9 points
Giving this book a total of 33 out of 40.
I have no idea how the second book is going to be or whether it is even going to live up to the first one but, all I can say is that I feel like I need more. I just need to have more time with this family and all the difficulties that they are going to live with as each aspect of the plot developed in this first book, leads onto the next one.
Favourite Part: “I see the difference now, between loving someone from afar and loving someone up close. When you see them up close, you see the real them, but they also get to see the real you.”