“Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That’s the part of the risk. I don’t want to be scared anymore.”
Why Did I Read This Book?
I chose this book as my first book to kick off The Reading Rush. I watched the film when it first appeared on Netflix and loved every second of it. I would say that this series is like a guilty pleasure to me because although I would class it as teenage fiction, it’s such a great and feel-good love story.
What Did I Think?
If you aren’t aware of the story, a young teenage girl wrote letters to the boys she loved when she was a child and these letters mysteriously end up being posted to the boys years later when she is in high school. I loved this concept and as love letters aren’t a thing anymore, I think it was such a romantic nod to the past.
“You’d rather make up a fantasy version of somebody in your head than be with a real person.”
I saw a lot of myself in Lara Jean (our protagonist). She is a big sister to the fabulous and sassy Kitty, but she isn’t a patch on their older sister Margot who leaves pretty early in the book to attend college in Scotland. Their mother died unexpectedly when they were all young and since then, Margot took on the role of mother; looking after herself, her two younger sisters and their dad. Yet when she leaves, I feel sorry for Lara Jean because she is expected to take on a role she is quite clearly not ready for. With 101 things to remember to do everyday, as well as survive high school, my heart goes out to Lara Jean who immediately has to take on the role of mother.
There are several male characters in this book and each of them provide something different for Lara Jean. Josh, Margot’s ex, is the one I felt most sorry for. When Margot leaves for Scotland he is left to mourn over her and their relationship whilst Lara Jean avoids him at all costs because he was one to receive a letter. It must have been hard for him to be on his own whilst getting over a break-up and my heart broke for him when Lara Jean notices him eating lunch alone.
I think what Jenny Han captures eloquently in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is that high school relationships are some of the hardest to maintain and experience. There is such pressure at secondary school to look and behave a certain way and more often than not, many end up hiding their true selves to fit in. It’s a sad reality but it will always be the way when hormones and puberty hit.
High school is where most teenagers learn about relationships and some of those experiences can be absolutely heartbreaking whilst fundamental to how we grow as humans. I think Lara Jean does well to grieve both her mum dying and her sister moving abroad, whilst taking on a mother role at home AND having to deal with ups and downs of dating one of the most popular boys at school.
I enjoyed this book and I think I even preferred it to the Netflix film. Although having seen the first I already had a good understanding of the story and I could envisage all the characters in my head whilst reading. As much as I love the imagery and the cast of the film, the book for me is my favourite.