Friday, December 12, 2014

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Lara Jean Song writes love letters. She addresses them to the boys that she loves, slips them into an envelope, and then hides them in a hat box. She never sends them. So when somebody does, five extremely private letters are hand delivered to five boys that Lara Jean never intended to know how she felt about them. 

Lara Jean's love life is further complicated by the fact that her oldest sister Margot is leaving for university in Scotland at the end of the summer. Margot has kept the Song family together - sisters Margot, Lara Jean, and Kitty, and their father - since the death of their mother several years before. She makes the meals, delegates chores and responsibilities, and keeps everything running smoothly. But before she leaves, Margot breaks up with her longtime boyfriend Josh. Josh, who has been a part of the Song family for as long as they can remember. Josh, who is the recent recipient of one of Lara Jean's love letters. 

And Josh isn't the only one who receives a love letter. There's also Peter Kavinsky, who Lara Jean kissed once in middle school and then never again. To save face with Josh, she convinces Peter to agree to being a part of a fake relationship (he's just broken up with his long term girlfriend Gen), one that becomes a lot more interesting (and a little less fake) as it goes on. 

I love teen romance books, and Jenny Han's was something special. I found To All the Boys I've Loved Before completely unpredictable. Even in the last quarter of the book, it was hard to guess who Lara Jean was going to end up with, or if she was even going to end up with anybody. Lara Jean's love life is complicated and messy, and it resists being tied up neatly with a bow. 

Overwhelmingly, To All the Boys I've Loved Before is a book about sisters, and the relationship between Margot, Lara Jean, and Kitty. Margot, away at university, is devastated when her family puts up the Christmas tree before she gets home for the holidays. Kitty and Lara Jean are shocked when Margot breaks up with Josh, because he's erased from their lives just as easily as he's erased from their sister's. Han's YA novel is fantastic (and so is the cover art!). 

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