Friday, May 2, 2014

Letters Say It So Much Better

Published: April 15th, 2014
To All The Boys I've Loved Before (To All The Boys I've Loved Before #1)
By: Jenny Han
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13:  9781442426702

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them...all at once?

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.


     Lara Jean Song is living with her older sister Margot, younger sister Kitty and their widower father, working with her sisters to minimize their Dad's worries and keep the household running smoothly since their Mother's death.  But now things are changing, with Margot going away to college in a foreign country, and breaking up with her perfect, boy-next-door boyfriend, Josh.  Of course this only causes Lara Jean's long suppressed feelings to come to the surface, threatening to ruin her friendship with Josh.  Adding to the nightmare, Lara Jean's personal and for her eyes only love letters end up being mailed to the respective boys she happened to write them for.  One of the gets to Josh and she tries to shrug it off - when that doesn't work, Lara Jean enlists her semi-ex boyfriend Peter to help her make Josh forget the whole situation.  And by pretending to be her boyfriend, Peter can make the girl that dumped him jealous.  Can Lara Jean forget Josh herself though?  And what can she do when feelings she thought long since lost, for Peter, begin to get in the way as well?  Also, what about Margot?
     I feel like I was expecting Lara Jean to have a crazy showdown of all her ex-loves/boyfriends.  They would all get the letters, and come to find Lara Jean looking for answers.  That, or Lara Jean would have to go on some sort of adventure to collect the letters from the unintended recipients.  I have to say that I was REALLY disappointed.  Lara Jean basically spends a couple hours worrying about the missing hatbox full of letters (you'd think she's be more upset, with even just the hatbox itself having been from her dead Mom), then seeming blase about it when she gives up.  Then when Peter approaches her at school about the letter she "sent" him, Lara Jean is WAY too calm and collected about it!  Any normal teenager would be so humiliated to see someone reading their personal thoughts, when they were never intended to have access to them.  Even as an adult a situation like that would mortify me!  Instead of focusing on this, the letters basically disappear from the plot, and Jenny Han decides to focus on a love triangle between Lara, her sister Margo's ex-boyfriend Josh, and slightly creepy, opportunistic Peter.  
     This whole book is about Lara trying to convince Josh she is with Peter, so she doesn't give in to temptation and betray her sister by hooking up with him.  But then Lara starts to feel things for Peter too!  Overall, the characters were extremely weak, the plot was nothing like what I expected and just about the only thing I liked was the relationship between the sisters.  And even that was tainted by Lara Jean's obsession with her "true lurve" for her sister's boyfriend.  That is such a blight against the girl code it isn't even funny.  Also, the cliffhanger was such a cop-out.  This didn't need to be a series, and I feel like it only is to make more money.  Nothing was resolved and I feel like I wasted my time.  Also, I constantly wanted to slap Lara Jean across the face.  It was like reading about the antics of an annoying ten year old, instead of a teenaged girl.  So naieve and priveleged I just couldn't connect or relate at all.  So disappointed in this Jenny Han books, especially after loving "The Summer I Turned Pretty."  I definitely don't recommend this one.  It only gets as many stars as it does because of the sisters and the fact that I finished it.  I'm being generous.

VERDICT:  1.5/5  Stars

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book's expected publication date is April 15th, 2014.*

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