Review: To all the Boys I loved before by Jenny Han

Goodreads Synopsis:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Chick and Brain Rating 2 out of 5

I have never read anything by Jenny Han before, but I was hesitant to jump into this because of all the hype around this series. However I have had a lot of success after reading Star Touched Queen and with a signing coming up near me I figured I would give it a shot. I knew my luck was going to run out sooner or later, I am just sad that it happened with this book.

The basic premise of the book is that Laura Jean and her two sisters all grown up with their Dad after their mother dies. To get over her loves, Laura Jean writes love letters to rid her soul of the heart-break. By some crazy twist of fate all the letters are mailed to the respective boys. It turns out that it is a total of 5 letters, but we only focus on two boys. Josh, her sisters ex-boyfriend and Peter the most popular boy in her school. Lots of ups and down through out the book for Laura Jean, but the main focus is how she starts to deal with these love letters being out in the world. There is not a clear resolution at the end of this story, and there isn’t a cliffhanger but you can obviously tell that there is more to the story.

Okay, I am probably going to say the unpopular opinion. I did not like this book at all. Trying to pick apart the book and say all the things I did not like would take us forever, but I can focus on the main points. A big one for me is there is no clear focus to this story, at least not one that we can remain focused on for the entirety of the narrative. An example of this would be Han’s focus on Lara Jean coming to grips with her older sister leaving for college over almost the first quarter of the book. It would be an amazing story, if this narrative was focused on a story of sisters but alas it is not. We are adding in details that are not necessary to the plot which causes confusion and us to loose focus on what the narrative is supposed to be about.  Han has amazing ideas with the banter between the characters as well as the idea of the letter themselves, but the execution just isn’t there. We spend most of our time attempting to figure out what is going on during certain scenes that we miss the fun parts or the quirky lines that she may throw in there.  Han confuses us in many ways that we miss most of what makes the story so endearing to all those that love it so much. I personally do not like to go searching for the love of a the story, I just want to be able to find it through reading. Another main problem is Lara Jean. Lara Jean is too naive for me. I understand that some naivety is necessary given the nature of the story, but we at times get the feeling that the younger of the three Song girls has a better head on her shoulders than Lara Jean. None of Han’s characters pull at our heart-strings or has us rooting for them to succeed.

Han’s writing is amazing! I love her writing style and she is able to add a quirky vibe to the entire story, but the inability to create a clear and cohesive narrative takes away from that. Having read this first book, I am not sure if I will finish the series but I am going to attempt to give Han’s writing another chance. If at first you don’t succeed, try again right? Maybe second time is a charm.

 

Until next time,

 

XOXO

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