To All the Boys I've Loved Before - a cute but flawed YA romance

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This was a really cute book that featured a really cute slow-burn romance. I loved the dynamic between Lara Jean and her two sisters and their father. I was happy to see that the book featured a functional, loving family (although I do get a little tired of the "dead mother" trope). The Covey family had their own holiday traditions and quirks, which to me made them jump off the page. Despite being close, each sister had secrets hidden from the others, which leads into the biggest thing I enjoyed about this book - the moral ambiguity. There were no clear answers, and lots of moral grayness.

However, I did have a lot of issues with this book. I think a lot of it is personal preference. There's nothing inherently wrong with it, this book was just not for me.

My biggest problem with this book was the misleading blurb. If you read the blurb of this book, you'd think the plot is this:

A teen girl has written letters to every boy she's ever liked, but when the letters somehow get mailed out, she has to face a lot of drama as suddenly all her former crushes know her feelings.

I was excited about this storyline, because I was hoping for lots of angst a plotline that forced the main character out of her shell. Kind of like Cole Gibsen's drama-filled LIFE UNAWARE, when all the secret and nasty messages the main character wrote about her classmates suddenly get posted around the school.

However, that is not the plot of this book. The plot of the book is this:

A teen girl has a crush on her older sister's boyfriend. When he finds out, she forms a fake relationship with the school's "popular guy" in order to make his ex jealous and get her sister's boyfriend to think she's over him.

The letters don't get mailed until about page 65, which meant the first 65 pages felt a bit slow to me - we just see Lara Jean's day to day life. Then, once the letters come out, there's a few pages of drama, only to be resolved within those few pages. The real "fake relationship" plotline starts soon after.

I also felt like the characters all read several years younger than their stated ages. And not just Lara Jean, but Josh and Kitty too. A lot of the internal and external dialogue felt young to me, with a few awkward slang words that felt unnatural. There was also a use of "You're not like other girls," which I don't like. What's wrong with being like other girls? Other girls are awesome!

Lara Jean's "best friend" Chris read almost like a one-dimensional caricature who was added solely so the main character could actually have a friend; she had virtually no development aside from her vulgarity, and I honestly struggled to believe that the two were actually friends at all.

I also felt that the identity of the person who mailed the letters was so obvious, that I was shocked (and found it hard to believe) when Lara Jean never even entertained the possibility that this person was behind it.

Finally, this book had a non-ending. I get that it's part of a two-book series, but I at least wanted a little more of a resolution by the end of this one. It ended so abruptly, for a moment I wondered if a few pages had been cut off.

Overall, however, these were just things that didn't work for me. I think many readers will love this book (and do love it! It's a NYT Bestseller!). The characters were well developed and it was a quick, fun, and light read. I also loved both Peter and Josh - they're both so sweet and likable! I'll probably pick up the sequel eventually; I do want to see how this all plays out.

Grade: 
3.0 / 5.0