To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Simon & Schuster / April 15, 2014 / $17.99 print, $10.99 digital
Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?
Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
Jenny Han's young adult novel To All the Boys I've Loved Before expertly blends heroine Lara Jean's development into an empowered young adult with her first taste of love for a sweet and memorable coming-of-age story.
When we meet Lara Jean, she's a pretty young 16, having always been coddled by her older sister, whose departure for college forces the middle Song girl to learn to take care of herself. With Margot away in Scotland and her father's hectic schedule as a doctor keeping him pretty busy, Lara Jean has to step up and take more responsibility for her little sister, Kitty, and for a lot of the housework and errands. And while at first Lara Jean doesn't feel like she's as natural at balancing it all as her older sister or their late mother, various mistakes and experiences throughout the novel (including a minor car accident that highlights some of her anxieties early on) lead her on a path to gaining more confidence in herself and her abilities.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that a few handsome guys play a part in Lara Jean's year of self-discovery. When very private letters that Lara Jean had written to the five guys she's had a crush on mysteriously get delivered to each of them, she thinks her life is over, but in truth the relationships she develops as a result (some romantic, some not) only enrich it. One boy in particular inspires all sorts of realizations about her outlook on life—and love:
I don't want to be afraid anyore. I want to be brave. I want...life to start happening. I want to fall in love and I want a boy to love me back.
By the end of the novel, Lara Jean has greatly matured. She's become a heroine with a good grip on what's important in this world, including her warm and loving father and sisters, and has come a long way in figuring out who she is as a person apart from them. She's also maybe, possibly fallen in love for the first time, though the “who” of it is best left a surprise.
But the best part? Her story's not over. I look forward to the second half in Han's forthcoming sequel, P.S. I Still Love You, which will undoubtedly feature more of Lara Jean's wonderfully relatable experiences, delightful family, and an irresistible love interest (or two??).
Learn more or pre-order a copy of To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, available April 15, 2014:
Heather Waters is the site manager for Heroes and Heartbreakers and a 24/7 fangirl. Tweet her @redline_.