What’s inside Lara Jean’s hatbox? Controversial love letters, apparently.
Ever since Netflix has acquired the global rights to the Awesomeness Films and Overbrook Entertainment’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” and released the official trailer for the film, the social media just went into a frenzy! Being the curious me, I decided to read the book to see what the hype was all about.
I will only share my opinions of the book, cleanly divided into 2 different sections: WHAT I LIKE and WHAT I DISLIKE.
Let’s get to it. What about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before:
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?
Sixteen-year-old 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.
WHAT I LIKE:
Light Read: This YA novel is surprisingly easy, and light – for a book that has its popularity blown out of proportion. To be honest, I expected MORE. But to be fair, the book gives you moments of excitement, and happiness; that, albeit small, still makes for a good read. There were times when I’d wonder if the appeal is mainly about the sisterhood-and-family stuff, or the cheesy love triangle of Lara Jean, Josh, and Peter.
Peter Kavinsky: Out of all the characters in this book, Peter is the most likable (and my fave). The book explored Peter’s fake romantic relationship with Lara Jean in a very teen rom-com kind of way, so of course it was entertaining! He is every girl’s secret desire. I guess I’ll add Jenny Han to the list of my hated (sarcastic) authors for making us hopeful of seemingly-douche-but-actually-romantic guys in real life!
WHAT I DISLIKE:
Shallow Narrative: They say books are always better than its film adaptations. Maybe this is the rare case of a reversed one (although it’s too early to tell). In a world that has a growing collection of beautiful stories, I’d say that this is a Plain Jane. We’ve read this kind of story before, so pass. Maybe it’s better off as a chick flick.
Half-baked Sister Resolution: Lara Jean already acknowledged that being with Josh was the worst betrayal ever. After all, he was her sister’s boyfriend. When the book neared its end, it was as if the scene of Margot finding out about Lara Jean and Josh was just added to get to the climax of their story, and bring conflict to the characters. Well, it was a mess. It brought drama just to give satisfaction (did it?) to the readers, but it didn’t bring justice to how colossal the conflict was, which when focused on, would make the book 2x more interesting. The resolution seemed quick and rushed. We’re left with more questions, than answers. Did the sisters make up simply because Margot is a very forgiving person? How can we follow, there was no character development..? Is it because sisters are just supposed to let everything pass? Maybe. Is it because Lara Jean planned to spill the beans and tell on Margot and Josh to their father? Yep. Is it because the whole story is coming to a close? Yes, definitely feels like it. Seriously, the resolution was MEH. Thinking back, I know you’d probably agree with me. The Song sisters’ were a let down.
Josh’s character: He’s love drunk on the concept of being a “boyfriend,” and his character doesn’t strike me as one of the good ones. He dated Margot, then when they broke up, tried to make move on Lara Jean. I mean, where’s your integrity dude? You didn’t even try to win Margot back (or maybe there was no space in the book for the author to work on that, but still!), then you go “Oh I’m unpredictable so I’ll kiss you” on Lara Jean. Newly-ended relationships don’t work that way. He blames Lara Jean for their “what-could-have-been,” claiming he’s been blindsided all along. But why didn’t you ask her out when you were clearly the first to like the girl, Josh? Maybe it’s on you.
Love Letters and Crushes: I don’t think the love letters gave a big weight to the whole story. It did at first, but lost its touch right away. I get that having your personal sentiments being sent out to your crushes would make you feel some kind of way (I’d probably want the ground to swallow me if I was CONFRONTED by my crushes), but the story gave a “play-safe” feeling by being fixated on the love triangle, instead of tackling the unknowns of what it would really be like to have 5 guys confronting you about your feelings for them. Do I make sense?? The guys were no Magic 5 at all. The other guys (Kenny from Camp, Lucas from homecoming, and John Ambrose from Model UN) were forgettable, and honestly, didn’t really matter in the whole book. Props are actually the better term.
Rating: 1.5/5 The book was interesting. But then again, there are many other interesting (and underrated) books just like this. I thought I’d be treated to something new, and scarier confrontations, but it’s a typical love triangle story, with a dash of sister drama.
Read my review of the series: