=> “When I write, I hold nothing back. I write like he’ll never read it. Because he never will.” –To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before<=
Author: Jenny Han
(4.16 stars – Goodreads rating)
Genre: Fiction / Romance / Young Adult
Publication Date: April 15, 2014, Simon & Schuster / BFYR
…it’s a lot of responsibility to hold a person’s heart in your hands.
When I was in school, people still wrote letters to each other (I know, I know…the Dark Ages). We would pass notes under our desks and would hand off coded sheets full of gossip to each other in the hallways. But the best letters of all, of course, were the love letters. Granted, in high school they were a little more advanced than “Do you like me, check yes or no.”
I had one boyfriend in college that kept a regular written correspondence with me after I graduated and he had one more year to go. Those were some of the most meaningful letters I ever got – and I have them still today (Yep, I held on to them even through my marriage to a totally different man! Shhhhh….!)
Love letters are magical because they are so revealing, so honest, and so open. You have to really know how you’re feeling to write a good one, and the commitment of putting it all down on paper takes bravery. In To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lara Jean Covey opens her heart up to the loves of her life, but it was all supposed to be private…
Here’s the blurb: “Lara Jean 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 can pour out her heart and soul and say all the thing 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.”
My letters are for when I don’t want to be in love anymore. They’re for good-bye. Because after I write in my letter, I’m not longer consumed by my all-consuming love…My letters set me free. Or at least they’re supposed to.
So, Lara Jean is in high school and she’s got some real challenges going on, not the least of which is the fact that someone mailed all of her love letters to former loves of her life. If someone did that to me I would think that it might be time to relocate to a different country! But LJ takes it all in stride – just like any teenager would – SHE FREAKS THE HECK out!!!! Totally understandable.
Although I am, sadly, far from high school these days, I still feel like I can relate to this adorable, romantic story. I remember those days when I felt like my heart couldn’t contain everything I was feeling for a guy, and that writing it all down was the only way I could manage to get through my day without exploding. That’s what reading this book made me remember – the days of being totally dominated by overwhelming emotions and living in that heady feeling every day.
I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I want to be brave. I want… life to start happening. I want to fall in love and I want a boy to fall in love with me back.
Jenny Han has written a special little love story here; one that shines on paper and on the little screen (yes, I watched the Netflix movie too). And I know I talked a lot about the romantic aspects of this book, but it’s also about family, managing big life changes, and tackling school politics.
If you haven’t already read this book, and you decide to pick up To All the Boys, I hope you will see Lara Jean as I did – not a love struck teenager, but as a young lady who’s trying to figure out her life, just like all the rest of us. This is one I wouldn’t mind reading again for the nostalgia of the feelings of first love and the comfort of a well-written book that fits like a cozy sweater.
Jenny Han is also the author of the New York Times bestselling Summer I Turned Pretty series. Her books have been published in more than thirty languages. A former librarian, Jenny earned her MFA in creative writing at the New School. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.