Monday, 7 September 2015

To All the Boys I've Loved Before | Book Review

To All the Boys I've Loved Before is a YA contemporary romance novel by Jenny Han.
Despite me owning a fair few of Jenny Han's books, this is the first one I decided to read and it did not disappoint.

At first, I was pretty unsure of what this book would be about. The description set the general plot for this book, but unlike in lots of cases, it didn't really give me any information about how the book would play out.

"Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. One for every boy she's ever loved. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say 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..."

When I first read the description of To All the Boys, I have got to admit: I did think it sounded really quite cheesy and I doubted that it would end up as one of my favourites.
I turned out to be pleasantly surprised! Like most romance books, it did get a little cheesy and predicable on the odd occasion, but I did really enjoy it and it is now one of my favourite books!

For those of you who have not already read the book, and to give a little more information than is on the blurb, Lara Jean is a sixteen year old romantic who has written a love - or sometimes 'goodbye' - letter to each of the five boys she has loved. It's her way of releasing them from the confines of her heart and she never has to worry about the boys finding out, as she never intends for them to read them.
One day, however, everything changes and her letters go missing...
Soon, Lara Jean finds herself having to answer to a life time's amount of crushes. From her next door neighbour (who just so happens to be her sister's ex-boyfriend) to the hottest guy in the school, Lara Jean is forced to explain her long felt declarations of love.
Her story will take some unexpected twists and turns to cover up what she's really feeling inside...

I'm going to be completely honest here; Jenny Han's writing isn't a masterpiece. It wasn't impeccably beautiful or anything, but it didn't need to be. I have read many bad reviews of this book which focused in on the writing, but I found it really easy to read and it didn't make it any less of an enjoyable read.
Also, I have read many reviews of To All the Boys which complain about Lara Jean's narrative voice seeming 'childlike and moany'. I disagree with this. Okay, so maybe she didn't completely act her age throughout the whole of the book, but as a whole, I didn't find an issue with it.

As with all books (except maybe Harry Potter!), there will always be at least one little issue which might irritate you, but I personally felt like Lara Jean's voice wasn't a huge one. Please don't be put off reading this book just because of this!

If you haven't read To All the Boys and do not wish to be spoiled, please stop reading now and go and read the book!!

So, the main subjects of this book revolved around boys, and let me tell you, our two main men were gorgeous!
Josh was Lara Jean's long-time crush, and also happened to be the boyfriend of her sister, Margot.
Peter was the slightly-over-self-confident guy loved by practically everyone in the school. Definitely not Lara Jean's type. But after her letters from the past are mysteriously posted and awkward questions are posed by the newly heartbroken Josh, Lara Jean finds herself taking part in a 'fake relationship' with Peter to hide her true feelings from Josh.
This was possibly the strangest relationships I have ever read about and I found the whole situation really awkward, yet hilarious at the same time!

At this point in the story, I didn't really like Peter and much preferred Josh, as I think the author intended from Lara Jean's preferences.

Possibly my favourite moment in the book was Halloween, when Lara Jean ended up dressing up as Cho Chang, from the Harry Potter series, and then Josh turned up dressed as Harry. I LOVE it when books make references to Harry Potter so this was a great moment for me! However, as I thought about it more, I realised that these costumes could be a metaphor for Lara Jean and Josh's characters, and almost foreshadow how the book would end, since (HARRY POTTER SPOILERS) Harry and Cho do not end up together.
I was quite disappointed about this at first. Peter just seemed kind of cocky and arrogant and was only with Lara Jean to get back at his ex-girlfriend, whereas it was clear that Josh might have had proper feelings for her. But as the story went on, a deeper side to Peter was revealed, particularly through his interactions
with Kitty, making those cupcakes with Lara Jean and taking her to the antique auction.
So as it went on, I found myself falling for Peter, just as Lara Jean did. I liked the depth of his character and even though he put a front up for everyone else, you could really tell that he was sensitive and caring deep down. So, when Josh told Lara Jean his feelings for her and proceeded to kiss her, it was kind of an awkward moment, because it was also the moment she realised how much she wanted to be with Peter.

Nearer to the end of the book, when they go on the ski trip and Lara Jean's true feelings for Peter are realised, is when things got messy to say the least. Lara Jean kissed him when they were alone in the hot tub and then Genevieve told everyone that 'a little more than that' had happened, their relationship kind of a turn for the worst. This was the point I got a little frustrated with Lara Jean because even though I'm sure it wouldn't be a pleasant experience to have these things said about you, but I didn't think she handled it well and could have done other things about it instead of just getting angry and upset with Peter for handling it better than her.

That part, however, was not the worst that happened. Margot arrived home for Christmas just before the ski trip and tension is made between the Song sisters. But when Kitty invites Peter to their Christmas Party along with Josh, everything really takes off. Everything between Lara Jean and Josh is revealed and Margot does not take it well. Peter and Lara Jean fall out big-time and we're left on as cliff hanger with the start of a letter to Josh, which was a really frustrating point to finish the story! 

Before the end, though, it was revealed that Kitty had sent out all of Lara Jean's letters after she got angry with Lara Jean, and I think this was supposed to be a surprise and a bit of a twist? Was anybody actually surprised when this happened?
I thought it was Kitty from the moment they were sent off and had just assumed that I had missed the bit where Lara Jean suspected her little sister, so I got really confused when she was accusing other people. Let's be honest- if something goes missing in your bedroom, who is the first person you're going to blame? It's going to be somebody who had to her room when she was out. The only two people in this category were her Dad and Kitty, and if her Dad didn't remember seeing the hat-box, isn't Kitty the obvious answer? Apparently not!
As I later discovered after reading The Summer I Turned Pretty, it seems that Jenny Han doesn't really write surprises very well. For me, anyway.

But this was the only real fault I found in the book, and I thoroughly enjoyed this cute rom-com style novel. It made me laugh numerous times and brought me to the brink of tears occasionally too.
It was a really fast read, so I would recommend this to fans of contemporary romance or fans of authors such as Rainbow Rowell, Cecelia Ahern, or even Gayle Forman!

To All the Boys I've Loved Before was one of my favourite novels I have read this year! I gave it four stars out of five and I can't wait to read it again!

That's all for this review but I hope to be back with more soon!
Bye for now!

Charlotte xxx

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