Jenny Han’s new YA novel, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, focuses on Lara Jean, a Korean American teenager whose world is changing with the end of the summer: her beloved older sister, Margot is leaving for college. In Scotland. However, this becomes the least of her worries when a box full of secret letters Lara Jean wrote to the boys she’s “loved” (not so) mysteriously get sent to each of them. The boys begin confronting her about them, much to her complete embarrassment, and Lara Jean spends much of the school year reassembling her family and social lives.
While I flew through this book and enjoyed it at times, there were a lot of things that bothered me about it even as I was reading. For one, Lara Jean is so incredibly innocent, to the point where it comes off as forced. In my opinion, a virginity pact like Lara Jean made with Margot just seems like something out of the 1950’s or a bad after school special. Lara Jean in general just wasn’t a likable character. She had hardly any depth, let everyone make her decisions for her, and didn’t change all that much by the end of the book.
This is the first YA book that made me wonder if I might be too old for YA, which I’ve never experienced before. And after finishing, I don’t think that’s the case, I think it was just the characters in this one that had me rolling my eyes at points. I did enjoy the romance aspects of the story though, and found myself rooting for Peter, because I liked the history behind them, and let’s be real here, it would have been too weird for Lara Jean to end up with her older sisters ex-boyfriend.
Overall I would recommend this one for slightly younger readers, as it’s not a YA novel that transcends age in a way that others can.