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.
Design – Lucy Ruth Cummins Photo – Anna Wolf Hand-Lettering – Nancy Howell
I really like this cover. It’s fresh and different while still being true to the book. The hand-lettering is my favorite part. I love how it perfectly fills the space, how it’s slightly slanted, and how it looks like it was done with marker – the variations in darkness are so interesting. I absolutely love how the title is written down the left side of the cover and the nontraditional placement of the author’s name. The spaced out pink lines about the author are nicely done because it doesn’t overpower the cover. The photo choice is perfectly minimal while still being interesting and thankfully this isn’t another whitewashed cover. Isn’t it sad that I’m thankful for that?
I cannot figure out why so many people absolutely love this book. I barely made it through the first few chapters because I just wasn’t interested or drawn in at all. Lara Jean is dull, Margot is controlling, and neither love interest is actually interesting. This book took me a very long time to get into and I just didn’t really care what happened.
- Kitty + Peter – My favorite relationship in this story is the friendship between 9-year-old Kitty and Lara Jean’s fake boyfriend Peter. Most of Peter’s better qualities show when he’s interacting with Kitty. He pays attention to her, doesn’t talk down to her, and seems to genuinely enjoy seeing her, which is really sweet. None of Peter’s angst over his ex or selfishness toward Lara Jean show when he’s talking to Kitty. How the person you’re dating treats your family is really important and Peter is great with Lara Jean’s family.
- family adjustment – I like how Lara Jean, Kitty, and their father had to adjust to Margot’s absence. Every family is unique and has its own way of communicating and relating to each other. Your family kind of shifts whenever someone moves out and everyone else has to adjust. Lara Jean’s family has to figure out everyday things like chores and transportation and meals without Margot there.
- plot/letters – Who on Earth would actually address their private love letters? When I read a book I’m enjoying, I have no problem with suspension of disbelief, but this story hinges on these letters finding their subjects. If you truly intend for your love letters to never see the light of day, do not put the person’s address on them, do not even put their last name on them. Their addresses? Come on. If Lara Jean’s letters had been on her computer and then someone found their way to the guys, I could absolutely believe that scenario. I just can’t wrap my mind around someone being clueless enough to address their love letters.
- family – First of all, Lara Jean calls her father “Daddy.” She’s 17, but this makes her seem much closer to Kitty’s age. Now, I know that whatever you call your parents is very personal, but for me it made it hard to picture Lara Jean as a teenager. Then there’s Margot, Lara Jean’s uptight older sister who’s moving abroad for college. Margot is trying to be independent, but she seems to think that this includes treating Lara Jean and Josh like crap. Margot is always assuming that Josh is pining for her and insulting him over it, but the second she discovers that he might be interested in Lara Jean, she decides they’ve both betrayed her. Lara Jean’s attempts to keep up a good relationship with her sister over email are met with Margot basically brushing her off like she’s too busy to care about Lara Jean’s problems or life.
- Peter + Josh – Neither of Lara Jean’s love interests are very interesting. I had trouble with Peter’s expectations and demands of Lara Jean as his fake girlfriend. Most of the time he seems like a good guy, but at one point he has a hissy fit because Lara Jean doesn’t want to sit with him on a bus trip and insists that it’s a requirement of girlfriends to always sit with their boyfriends and basically ignore any other friends they may want to spend time with. Josh really doesn’t get much description since he’s usually around but not interacting with Lara Jean or doing whatever she’s doing. Since Josh is Margot’s ex, he’s “off-limits” and Lara Jean and Kitty are figuring out how close of friends they can be with him. So, Josh is mostly only characterized by his absence. I didn’t really care which guy Lara Jean chose, and I didn’t understand why the guys hated each other – was it just so they’d be even more of rivals?
- mock UN guy – Lara Jean seeks out the only one of the letter recipients she hasn’t heard from, just to see if he remembers her. She has no other reason. He’s not doing anything at all relating to Lara Jean. She just seems to want to make her life more difficult by adding more suitors. I think the entire scene where she sees this guy was written in as a loose strand to justify an unneeded sequel. Lara Jean is so immature that she can’t even walk up to this guy without pretending to be part of the model UN event.
The way he’s looking at me now, I’m suddenly in a time warp back to a summer day when I was fourteen and he was fifteen, and we were walking home from somewhere. He was looking at me so intently I was sure he was going to try to kiss me. I got nervous, so I picked a fight with him and he never looked at me like that again.
Until this moment.
– pg. 86
I finally look at Peter, and I’m surprised by how hard he’s paying attention; his eyes are intent and focused on me like he’s actually interested in what I’m saying. “Even when I like a boy so much, loved him even, I would always rather be with my sisters, because that’s where I belong.”
“Wait. What about right now?”
“Right now? Well, I don’t like you that way so…”
“Good,” Peter says. “Don’t go falling for me again, okay? I can’t have any more girls in love with me. It’s exhausting.”
– Lara Jean + Peter pg. 192
Acquired: bought (ebook)