To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Best for: Young adults.
In a nutshell: Lara Jean writes letters to boys as a way to get over them. Somehow, they get sent. Yikes
Worth quoting: “It’s funny how much of childhood is abut proximity. Like, who your best friend is is directly correlated to how close your houses are; who you sit next to in music is all about how close your names are in the alphabet. Such a game of chance.”
Why I chose it: The Netflix version of the book has been getting great reviews, so I figured I’d check out the book. After accidentally ordering the German-language one, I finally got my hands on it in English this week.
A few months ago, my mother and I were talking on the phone and she shared that while she was cleaning up in my old room, she ran across a letter I’d hidden in a book. It was apparently something I’d written in middle school, and was to a boy who I don’t know anymore, but who I definitely remember having a crush on. She said she didn’t read it, but who knows. Regardless, when she told me about it, laughing, I told her to shred it. I was MORTIFIED.
Guys, I’m 38. That letter was written at least 24 years ago. Even typing it out now, I’ve got slight butterflies in my stomach, because it would have been humiliating had it ever gotten to its intended recipient.
Which is all to say – holy shit, does Lara Jean handle herself amazingly well when the letters she’s written get out. Luckily, none of the guys she sends them to are total assholes, which I guess helps. But still, I think the biggest take-away from this for me is that she doesn’t just immediately disappear into herself; she takes back what control she can to try to fix the situation. I think that sends a good message to readers.
As far as the film is concerned, I think the changes they made make sense, but it’s odd to see Josh with so little screen time and Peter with so much. Also, I did not picture John Corbett as the dad, but he does a great job. The ending is a bit more Hollywood than the book, but again, I get it. They had 100 minutes; they made it work. If you had to pick one or the other, I’d say it’s about even for me, but I think the book every so slightly wins out.