This was one of those books I’ve seen around for years, and always thought I should pick it up, but just never got around to it. I’m glad the trailer of the Netflix movie adaptation came out when it did, though, and finally got me to try it out, because this was a very cute book and otherwise who knows when I would have given it a chance (I tend not to read contemporary very much).
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before follows Lara Jean Song, a sixteen year old biracial girl whose older sister (and substitute mother figure, practically) has just gone off to college in Scotland, leaving Lara Jean at home with her sister and widowed father. The Song girls are very close, and so this throws Lara Jean off as she heads into her junior year of high school. To make matters worse, somebody has mailed off Lara Jean’s box of love letters. Lara Jean has never had a boyfriend, but she has had crushes. It’s her thing when those crushes are ending to write them a sort of Dear John letter, excising her feelings and giving herself closure. She keeps the letters in a hatbox her mother gave her, and she never reads them again. Her old crushes start receiving her letters, which of course is not ideal. Things happen.
This book is actually kind of sneaky, because it sets you up with boy red herrings at the beginning, and you think it’s going to be one thing, and then while you’re not looking it turns into this other thing. (The blurb doesn’t even advertise that it utilizes, and does so very well, one of my favorite tropes: SPOILERS the fake relationship that turns into a real one END SPOILERS. I really feel this does the book a disservice, because if I had known that trope was going to be in this book, I would have picked it up a lot sooner.)
What I liked most about this book was that it really felt like Lara Jean and all of her friends were actually sixteen years old. There was an innocence to everything, even while they were being hormonal as hell. And there was some really sassy dialogue in here, particularly between Lara Jean and one of her goober ex-crushes, Peter. The sisterly relationships were really nice, too.
Mostly, it was just really cute and satisfying, and pretty much exactly what I was wanting when I picked it up. I’ll definitely be reading the other two books in the series, and checking out the Netflix movie when it comes out.