To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
I imagine I treat romance novels the same way people treat romance movies; when times are tough for whatever reason and you need to see just a glimmer of hope happening somewhere, it's time for a romance movie. I suppose it's kind of like having some faith restored in humanity because seeing other people struggle and fight just as hard as you do for something that might never be is heart warming.
Fighting the good fight is worth it regardless of the outcome.
This is going to get cheesy.
An amazon summary, "Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?
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." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE
I need to do a better summary than the amazon summary did, there's more to this story than just love letters.
Lara Jean has grown up with her older sister, Margot, her younger sister, 'Kitty', and her father. Her mother died when she was young, so Margot has been taking on a lot of responsibilities.
Margot is moving across the world to attend university and has left some emotional whiplash. Margot was the girlfriend of Josh, their next door neighbor who often retreated to their house to escape his parents fights. Josh was best friends with all the sisters though, so it left everyone reeling a bit when Margot broke up with him. In light of their break up, Lara Jean remembers the love letters she's written to all the boys she's harbored a crush for before.
Lara Jean keeps all her letters in a hat box in her mother gave her. It was one of the last things her mother gave her and she was told it was a place to keep all of her treasures safe, something that was only hers.
Lara Jean has an intense crush on Josh, she's not handling her sister's imminent departure very well, and is still traversing the rough waters of high school.
I'd also consider Lara Jean a homebody; she seems to be the most content when she's at home, hanging out with her family, and doesn't look for adventure. She does have a friend in Chris, who is this rough and tumble girl that barely shows up to school and seems to always be getting into trouble.
In the midst all of her uncomfortable life changes, her love letters have been mailed.
She's written one to five boys that's she has liked: John Ambrose McClaren, Kenny from camp, Lucas Krapf, Peter Kavinsky, and Josh.
Each letter contains everything she was feeling for the boy at the time. It's as if she wanted to solidify that moment in time where love is young, pressure, and breath stealing (a crush).
So her life begins to turn upside as in a desperate attempt to convince the newly single Josh, she leaps on Peter K (who is also recently single) in the middle of the hallway and kisses him. When I say leap, I mean she has her arms around his neck and her legs clutching his middle.
In the middle of the hallway. She completely rushes Peter in an act of desperation to convince Josh she's not into him anymore (but she's totally into him). She doesn't really harbor any strong feelings for Peter besides that he was her first kiss. He seems to be popular boy that everyone should have a crush on. It's a bit weird.
So the baffled Peter approaches Lara Jean later who explains the situation to him and Peter agrees to be in a fake relationship with her to put Josh off and to also throw his ex off.
Then all the hijinks begin.
Overall, this book was an adventure in love. There were a lot of little quirks to it, but it seemed realistic. There were only a handful of incidents where Lara Jean acted differently than she had previously. For the most part, it was a pretty solid story.
I appreciate the artistic nature to the ending of the book, but it makes me deeply suspicious that there could be a sequel or it could remain a stand alone book. I'm not sure which I prefer.
Either way, I appreciate how much Lara Jean knew herself and her values even amidst all the insecurities that rallied against her.
I also appreciated the notion of creating words (in this case letter) that capture a moment in time of who you are. It captures who you are before something else grips you in its throws. A diary has always seemed like a cool concept to me, but I hate reading books that are in a diary format. I hate how characters seem to recall verbatim who said what for pages of book. If it's an extremely emotional moment, I can see that, but if it's something like eating lunch together or attending class, it just doesn't seem realistic to me. Eh.