Not that long ago, Barnes and Noble was having a sale on teen books, buy 2 for $20, basically you get one for free. I kept seeing To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before pop up on my Tumblr dashboard that I decided to check it out. Contemporary Fiction and Romance are not my usual go to reads but I do dabble in it from time to time and since both it and it’s sequel, P.S. I love You were apart of the sale, I decided to just go on get them both. If they are as good as Tumblr insists then I should read them, right? Tumblr would never steer me wrong. Tumblr did introduce me to Rainbow Rowell after all. It was a wise decision because once I finished the first, I had to read the second. Actually, I read the sequel in one day, it was good. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still I Love are both delightful. True they are not really groundbreaking, besides it centers on a Korean American teenage girl but it’s sweet, kind and lovely. Lara Jean is the middle Song sister. Her older sister, Margot is about to go to College in Scotland and her younger sister Kitty is well a firecracker. Their mother died unexpectedly when they were little so it’s just been the girls and their dad. Margot has been their surrogate mother the last couple of years but with her going it’s now Lara Jean turn. Lara Jean is a romantic in true sense of the word. She is sixteen and is about to start her junior year in high school. She’s never had a boyfriend but she’s been in love before. More accurately she’s had crushes, five of them and she wrote all five letters and hid them in her hat box. One day she finds out that her letters that were never meant to be seen were mailed out to the boys she loved before and well this is a problem. One of those goes to Josh, Margot’s boyfriend that she just broke up with and Lara Jean had a crush on before they had started dating and those feelings for him start to return. Another one went to Peter a former friend from Middle School that was her first kiss and her ex-best friend, Genevieve’s recent ex-boyfriend. Lara Jean and Peter decide to fake a relationship to save face with Josh and to make Genevieve jealous. Of course in true Rom-Com fashion they end up falling in love for real and things get messy.
In the sequel, Peter and Lara Jean decide to date for real and well it’s not as simple as it once was. Old insecurities come up and when another recipient of Lara Jean’s letters shows up it complicates things even more. John Ambrose McClaren was also apart of Lara Jean’s middle school group of friends until he moved away. Lara Jean goes from a reserved girl, who lived in her sister shadows to a more confident girl who knows what she wants but a lot happens for her to get there. First she has to get over this idea that she is not worthy. Peter is the golden boy. He’s the boy that every girl in high school wants to be with and Genevieve is the beautiful blonde girl that you would expect to be with the golden boy. Lara Jean is not popular or in the “in crowd”. She constantly compares herself and her relationship to Genevieve to the point her jealously and insecurities take over. It’s something that all of us have dealt with from time to time. This is Lara Jean’s first relationship and she is closer to her sisters then to anyone else, so it’s hard to open up and trust other people.
Now let’s talk about the guys. Josh, her sister ex-boyfriend and the literal boy next door. He’s nice and caring but I felt he was more of the big brother type then anything else. It’s a shame that their friendship never truly recovered after the break up and the letter but they did find a way to be friends again. John Ambrose McClaren is nice. He’s the kind of boy who would be perfect for Lara Jean. He’s smart, sweet and unassuming but he doesn’t really enter the story until the second half of the second book so we don’t get to know him as well as the other two. And finally Peter. He comes at first as egotistical and vain and well there is some of that too but he’s also caring and observant. Of all the guys he’s the one who truly challenges Lara Jean the most. He brings her out of her shell without forcing her to change or wanting her to be different. I liked that Lara Jean had different suitors. She didn’t fall for the first guy that noticed her, she realized she had options. I think that’s important to girls to know that if a relationship doesn’t work out that they are going to be others too. Another important element of the story is the double standard between boys and girls. At one point of the story, a video goes viral of Lara Jean and Peter kissing in a hot tub. Typically, all the comments on the internet are about slut Lara Jean is even though she is doing nothing wrong. As far as anyone knows, Lara Jean is only kissing her boyfriend. Of course nothing is said about Peter. When she goes back to school, teachers and counselors talk to Lara Jean about the video and how disappointed they are in her but no mention of Peter. It’s sad how true this scenario is.
So in conclusion, I really loved these two books. With beach season coming up soon, these are the perfect books to take on vacation with you to read and just mellow out. Also for anyone participating in our reading challenge, this is a good choice for a book with an Asian American character.
P.S. If Jenny Han somehow reads this, can we have a spin-off series about Kitty?