Hello lovelies! I hope you’re having an amazing week so far. I am currently doing a series where I go through my bookshelf and review books I haven’t already. Today’s book is To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I only own the first book, but have read the entire series, so I’m going to review all of them while focusing on the first one, if that makes sense.
I may interject with a few opinions about the movies, but this is a book review, so that’s not gonna be a main point. Also, there will definitely be some spoilers, because I need to rant a little. Okay? Okay.
Without further ado, here’s my review!
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t really love any of the characters in these books. Lara Jean is fairly relatable as a “good girl” introvert who loves baking and her family. At times she did feel a little goody-two-shoes or holier-than-thou. Her internal self was familiar, but sometimes whiny. I felt like she did not have a lot of depth. She gets upset over small things or creates drama while simultaneously being angry about drama. However, she is also optimistic and ends up getting the courage to shoot her shot and try to go for what she wants. Overall, her character felt mediocre. She was flawed, like the rest of us, and had her good qualities, but didn’t go much deeper than the surface.
Okay, now I’m gonna talk about Peter Kavinsky.
This boy. Makes me so. angry. Especially in the movie. Boy is TOXIC and RUDE and objectifies women. He’s occasionally romantic in the first book, but he gets angry a lot, upset over small stuff, expects a lot of effort from the girl in his relationships but doesn’t give much himself. It’s just really frustrating to me. He and Lara Jean brought out the worst in each other and their relationships was generally bad. They had some cute moments, and learned from each other, but by the end of book two, they should have broken up for good.
That brings me to the third main (?) character: Josh. Josh does not really have a big role after the first book, but he’s Lara Jean’s best friend and secret crush at first. He’s okay. His role in the book is very sweet, but he’s a bit possessive. He and Lara Jean actually had a fairly healthy relationship, beginning as friends and slowly growing towards something more. Their relationship felt natural. In the movies, he was incredibly vanilla and lacked any depth whatsoever. Anyway, he wasn’t a big deal after book one (which didn’t make a ton of sense), so there’s no use spending more time on him.
And now my favorite character, John Ambrose. John Ambrose (introduced for real in book two) was kind, had a personality, and was actually good for Lara Jean. Plus, they cast Jordan Fisher to play him in the movie, which automatically earns him bonus points. Someone I know was upset because John was blond in the books, but c’mon, it’s Jordan Fisher, how could you possibly be mad?
Honorable mention: I also loved LJ’s relationships with her sisters and dad. They were realistic, far from perfect, but sweet and familiar.
While not too original, I enjoyed the plot of the first book: girl and boy fake-date because of outside circumstances and end up falling for one another. That’s fine, it’s okay, even if I wasn’t a fan of the relationship all the time. Book two: enter the other side of the love triangle. What changes by the end of the book, though? Nothing. Lara Jean ends up with the same guy, and their relationship isn’t any better. Lara Jean even blames herself for some of his poor behavior. Peter may have been boyfriend material (emphasis on the may), but John Ambrose was long-term, potential-husband material, and Lara Jean just passed that up. Book three: Lara Jean is worried about college. Will she and her boy break up? No, they will not. Nothing changes. Book three felt utterly unnecessary.
So, while the plot was not extraordinary, it did have some fun moments. I liked the first two books well enough, the first for the cheesy romance’s sake, and the second because we get John Ambrose and we get to learn more about their friend group.
As previously mentioned, I think the entire third book was unnecessary, and I believe she should have ended up with John Ambrose instead.
This was typical young adult, easy to read writing. Some moments were better than others and helped me really connect with Lara Jean. Overall, it did not feel especially beautiful or awful, it simply sat in the middle, allowing me to enjoy the story for what it was, but not blowing me away either.
There was some language in this series, with one side character being particularly mouthy. I recall a few instances of f*** or some variation, and more frequent use of s*** and the like. I believe the name of Jesus was also used as a swear word at some point.
Violent content was not an issue, but there was some sexual content. One of the major plot points in book one was a recording of LJ in a hot tub with a boy, seemingly having sex (they weren’t, but it looked that way). The major conflict in book three (or one of them, at least) was LJ trying to decide when to have sex with her boyfriend. There was also a bit of innuendo sprinkled throughout the series. I felt like the first book’s sexual content was fairly mild and actually had a reason to be in the story, but the whole debate in book three was unnecessary and made me think the author was grasping at straws in an attempt to find content ideas.
Aesthetic and Colors
This book/series is very bright and summery. I would recommend it as a spring break read, or something to cheer you up in winter. The color scheme is pastels and neutrals. I picture it in shades of pale beige with pops of pink and green with a productive energy. Lara Jean is a dedicated, productive character, and she’s almost always working on something, be it baking, homework, or reading.
LJ bakes so much in these books, you CAN’T read without something to eat. If you can get your hands on authentic Korean food, I recommend that, but simple sweets are good too, like chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, brownies, cupcakes, or pain au chocolate.
While I had a lot of problems with this series, I still enjoyed it, and it cheers me up when I’m down. It’s very light and fluffy, like cotton candy at a fair. The movies are fun, perfect for a girls’ night sleepover or as a stress reliever when you wake up at two am with period cramps. I may not love all of Lara Jean’s, or Jenny Han’s, decisions, but it’s a cute story and worth the read.
Have you read this series? What did you think? Who do you like better, Peter or John Ambrose? Let me know in the comments!
Have an adventurous day!