Hello! So, we’re onto number 2 of my top 5 books reviews, and with the latest Netflix adaptation of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the fanbase for Lara Jean’s story has become more and more popular on the Twitter-sphere. With many lusting after the most perfect human being in the world, Peter Kavinsky and others loving the representation of Asian-American’s in modern media, it’s no wonder that TATBILB has easily become everyone’s favourite new love teenage love story (byeeeeeee Twilight!)
So how did I come across this book? Well, not to sound like a hipster or anything buuuutttt I read the book last year, well before the film came out (because I am SUCH a literary trend setter obvs.) I was actually given the book series as a thank you for my work experience at Scholastic Children’s Publishing UK last Summer and I distinctly remember a co-worker tipsily telling me, during the Summer office party I ended up crashing teehee, that she’d recommend anything Jenny Han – and she was so right! Thank you for the somewhat life-changing recommendation, Hattie!
For anyone who doesn’t know much about TATBILB, the story follows teenager Lara Jean, a half Caucasian, half Korean romantic middle child. Her two sisters and father are the most important people in her life, and the book gives us little casual peeks into her family life like their annual Christmas Cookie Bonanza. Lara Jean writes a love letter to her crushes AKA to all the boys she’s loved (before), and stores them in a hat box, gifted to her by her mother. She seals the letters in envelopes and addresses them and stows them away – now if I were a teenager again, this is totally something I would do. The idea of writing a letter to someone who you loved, but never ended up with seems cathartic and actually quite healthy to be honest, just don’t send th- oh actually, this is what happens to Lara Jean. The 5 letters get sent out. One of which goes to her older sister’s current boyfriend. Yikes. So without trying to spoil a lot of the book, Lara Jean ends up starting a fake relationship with high school hunk, Peter Kavinsky in order to convince her older sister Margot’s boyfriend, Josh that she doesn’t actually like him, even though she does still secretly fancy the forbidden literal boy next door.
I think the reason I fell for this story so much is 1. Because it was one of the first books I picked up during my placement year that didn’t make me feel guilty for not using my reading time to study. It made me fall back in love with reading and sparked my recent obsession with YA fiction (which I am currently trying to branch out of now). 2. I found the story relatable. It’s rare enough to get Asian representation in stories, but to get a story where the main female lead was Asian AND was the main love interest? AMAZING! While Lara Jean wasn’t Indian, I’ll take any form of representation I’ll get, to be honest, although I am keeping my eye out for a book that features a female Indian teen as the main character. But the small descriptions of Korean lifestyles and background were a great way to learn about a new culture and it was really nicely interweaved into the storyline. I especially found Lara Jean’s Halloween costume predicament to be soooooo relatable! I’ve got a running joke with my friends, saying ‘I’ll go as the ethnic character’ whenever we were discussing group costume ideas. It’s these little slices of insight to the minor problems of ethnic minorities that makes this story so great.
I’m a sucker for a good teenage love story and having a book series on it, has fed my monster obsession! I’ve read the series over and over again, since last Summer and it’s a great story to be able to get lost in. When you’re following someone else’s life and getting so absorbed into someone else’s story, it’s easy to feel like you’re a part of the Song-Covey clan and that you are a part of the warm home life, baking cupcakes and pretending to enjoy the burnt bosaam with the family. TATBILB is the perfect teenage love story that you wish you had, even though I highly doubt boys like Peter Kavinsky exist in high/secondary school (I will eat the burnt bossam if you can prove me wrong). It’s just a sweet and lovely love story and if you haven’t read it, go and read it now!
[gifs/images used are not mine]