Wednesday, June 3, 2015

look at her go: reviewin' reviewin': to all the boys i've loved before duo

To All the Boys I've Loved Before & P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
synopsis (book 1): To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all. 
(full reviews that may contain spoilers of both books under the cut!) 
To All The Boys I've Loved Before

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you've probably run across a post where I talk about how much I love this book. To me, this is a different class of contemporary, right up there with Rainbow Rowell and Morgan Matson's books (along with Han, three of my fave authors), in that the sweet moments are tempered by shots of reality, which make these types of contemporary more appealing in my eyes. They are reminders that sometimes embarrassing or tragic or horrible things happen, but that doesn't mean that everything has to be that way. Though To All the Boys I've Loved Before is one of the sweetest novels I've ever read, there is still some backbone in it, an element of reality that I love. 

Starting with Lara Jean, the protagonist and center of the story's events, this book has quite a cast of characters, each with his or her own adorable quirks. Lara Jean is dreamy-eyed and a bit naive, but you can never fault her for it because she's so optimistic and cute. She's almost childlike in a way, but she also has a mature grasp on the practicalities life that stems from losing her mother at a young age. Her sisters, Margot and Kitty, are her best friends and anchors and, along with their father, make up a perfectly imperfect family unit. I love Kitty for her precociousness and fearlessness, and she is one of my favorite characters in both this and the sequel. Margot is tougher, she goes off to college in the beginning of the novel and is absent for a lot of the action, but always present in Lara Jean's thoughts as the one who has it all together, the one who she looks up to more than anyone. I want to be friends with the Covey family. I especially want for Lara Jean to bake me things. 

The important boys in this book number 2: Josh, the Covey's neighbor and Margot's ex-boyfriend, and Peter, a classmate of Lara Jean's. Both of these boys receive letters when Lara Jean's hatbox gets stolen, and this is significant for both of them in different ways. For Josh, it is shocking because he has been dating Lara Jean's sister, and for Peter, it is amusing as well as convenient, because he had just gotten out of a relationship as well. Because Josh is someone who Lara Jean has always had feelings for, she tries to save face with him by claiming that she doesn't like him, that she is dating Peter. One of the BEST tropes in books, movies and on tv is the "fake dating turns into something more" and this is what I LOVE about Lara Jean and Peter. They don't seem like they go together at all, but as the book goes on, the reader sees that they are good together, even when they can't see it themselves. 

I loved the relationships in this book. Whether it was between sisters or friends or couples, they were all so real to me, and Han didn't cut corners when developing them. I honestly feel like the characters in this book are people that I know, which is always a plus. The romance between Lara Jean and Peter was one of a slow-burn, something that develops when no one is looking and no one realizes it until something happens to threaten it. I was so happy with the way this book turned out, even though there was some drama in the end, that I absolutely couldn't wait for the sequel. 

P.S. I Still Love You

This was one of my most highly anticipated releases of the entire year. Tatbilb being one of my favorite contemporaries, I could only hope that the sequel would be any bit as good as its predecessor, and I have to say that I was not disappointed. I felt that P.S. I Still Love You was perhaps a bit more serious, more aware of itself, but I didn't think that was a bad thing. I felt like the innocence of the first novel would not have translated to a second one, that it would've made the series feel stagnant. But there was great development in this one. I liked the introduction of a couple new characters that were just names in the first novel, as well as the deepening of the relationships between everyone, old and new. 

The only thing that bothered me even slightly in this book was that we didn't get a whole lot of cute scenes between Lara Jean and Peter. There were some, especially the very end, but they actually spent a lot of the book frustrated with each other. I think that the frustration was actually crucial to their relationship, that without the fights they wouldn't have been able to stay together, but it was sad as a reader to be missing some of those cute scenes. However, there were a lot of cute scenes between Lara Jean and newcomer, another receiver of a letter, John Ambrose McClaren, which kind of made up for the missing chemistry between Lara Jean and Peter because John Ambrose is so goddamn adorable. Like honestly a puppy, that's how lovable he is. And I am in the same corner as Lara Jean because I know that I could've totally been on his side, but I love Peter too much to let him go. Which is why the ending made me very happy. Even though I enjoyed the snow day and the USO party for John Ambrose. 

I liked that this book also dealt with some social issues, such as the double standard for boys and girls when it comes to physicality and dating. Lara Jean had to go through a lot of humiliation and ridicule for kissing Peter in a hot tub, when he had to take no whispers, to strange looks, no comments from the school counselor, just because he is a boy. Lara Jean has Margot and Chris and Kitty surrounding her, telling her that she did nothing wrong, but of course everyone can see how unfair it is. I loved how Jenny Han highlighted the unfairness of it all without being off-putting. When you explain something like feminism through the eyes of sweet Lara Jean, it makes it much more widely accepted, I think. That was an aspect that I really enjoyed. 

Another thing that was interesting is that Lara Jean's world seems to be widening in this second book. In the first one she was very much a homebody, and it took someone like Peter to draw her out into the world. In this second novel she can go out and widen her circles on her own, which was some awesome character development and made me very proud. Her work in the nursing home, her friendship with John Ambrose, her reconnection with her childhood friends and her efforts to find her dad a girlfriend all make her life seem much richer, and I think she owes that to Peter. They each give something vital to the other, and that is what makes them good for each other, I think. 

All in all, I love these books. I think they're sweet and adorable and filled with recipes that I really want. The characters are realistic, which makes you feel for their hardships and smile with their triumphs.  I love family dynamics portrayed in these books, and the fact that they don't shy away from real-life issues. I think these are two books that everyone should give a chance. 



  1. I'm not going to read these reviews YET because I plan on picking up To All The Boys I've Loved Before this month and I really do not like spoilers. However, I've been hearing great things about these and it's making me excited to read this series! Glad you liked them!
    Olivia @ Fluttering Pages

    1. yes don't read the reviews yet!! but definitely do read the books!! hahaha they're amazing!

  2. Great reviews -- I was a bit disappointed in PSISLY but I know I will re-read these books often. I do love Lara Jean and her world -- just not sure about Peter still

    1. I do with PSISLY had been a bit longer, maybe we could've seen more of the story. I think there could even be a third book just so that we could see if Peter has changed... so yeah i get what you're saying! I can't help but adore these books no matter what though :) thanks for stopping by!


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