Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, P.S. I Still Love You, and Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Young Adult
Pub date: April 15, 2014
Read if you like: high school love stories.
This series is one of my favorite reads of the summer. After strong recommendations from a number of my book-loving friends, I dove into these three young adult books, just in time for the Netflix original movie to release this Friday (August 17)! And gosh am I glad I did. I completely adored these books – Jenny Han has an amazing taste for exactly how to write in the mind of a sixteen-year-old girl. She gives value to all of the things that feel most important at that age – not just romance but relationships with your parents, with your siblings, and with your friends.
Lara Jean is spunky and creative and imperfect. She’s the ideal heroine for a young adult readership – she doesn’t know everything, but she’s figuring it out as she goes along. She makes mistakes and learns how to both ask for and give forgiveness. Sometimes, when I read books intended for young adult audiences, I think about how a past version of myself would have read the book. Past Morgan would have loved this series. Present Morgan also loved it, but partly because my life at sixteen was so enriched by reading books that I felt got me as a person.
In a non-preachy way, Han includes representation of many kinds – exploring the experience of a biracial family, of grief for the loss of a loved one, of friends that grow up and grow apart. It’s also one of the first books I’ve encountered that addressed the college application and selection process in a realistic way – often times, books, TV shows, and movies take liberties with the timeline to suit their storytelling. The third book captures the excitement and the pain of applying to college in a way that would feel true to a seventeen-year-old reading this book while they were experiencing the same process.
If I had to put a finger on it, what I loved most about this book is how it puts you right back in that experiencing of finding your first love – of crushing, of getting together, (of splitting up, of getting back together). Han takes you along on the full roller coaster of the journey. And it’s one of the best kinds of love, isn’t it? That love that you know has happened to adults and characters in books but hasn’t happened to you yet? And you believe in it but don’t know if you’ll ever find it until one day, you do? There’s something so special about that time, and I loved reliving it through this series.
When I was in high school and dating my way through my version of Lara Jean’s hatbox, music was a huge part of how I experienced my relationships. I made playlists, burned cds, texted song lyrics. Music was there for me when I needed someone to understand how excited I was and it was there when I needed to cry my eyes out. So, I made a playlist of 20 songs that take me right back to 2009 (or ‘10 or ‘11).
Interested in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before? Click here to find it on Amazon or click here to support your local independent bookstore.
SYNOPSIS: (AS TOLD BY THE BACK OF THE BOOK)
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song 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 pours out her heart and soul and says all the things 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