What a rollercoaster this book was for me. I was so excited to read this because I adored and completely devoured The Summer I Turned Pretty Series. As far as the Young Adult genre goes, it is easily my favourite series of books. And To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, like Fangirl, has had a lot of hype in the bookstagram community. So it was on my TBR list for quite a while and lay teasingly on my bookshelf while I made it through Senior Honours at University.
Boy, was I disappointed when I opened it up. If you follow me on Instagram then you will have watched my journey through this book: it did not get off to a good start. My first impression was bad – why was a seventeen year old girl calling her parents Daddy and Mommy? Is this an inherently American thing that makes me squirm because I’m British? Secondly, the awful Scottish stereotypes. I saw it coming as soon as I read that Margot was moving to Scotland. I only realised it was St Andrews at the very end of the book, until then Scotland was treated like one big amalgamation and not a variation of very culturally different places. That reached a new level of annoyance when Margot was thinking about joining a “shinty” club. During my four years at Glasgow University not one of my friends or acquaintances ever mentioned a shinty club; I had never even heard of this supposedly Scottish sport. I have since learned it is a thing but it’s traditional and more common in the Highlands than the West coast where I live. Nonetheless, it felt like a lazy and inaccurate stereotype as if Jenny Han googled Scottish sports and picked the most foreign sounding game she could find. Sports like football, rugby and hockey are so much more popular here! I half expected Margot to Skype her sisters eating haggis in a kilt.
I wanted to give up but since I already abandoned Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris last week I felt like I couldn’t give in that easily. Plus I had enjoyed The Summer I Turned Pretty books SO much that I knew I had to give Jenny Han the benefit of the doubt. I was glad I did. While the first 100 pages had been a disappointment, the next 300 were magical. I couldn’t put it down. Yes, there were a few YA clichés: bad boy love interest, a love triangle, and a hopeless family that you love no matter what. However, I could move past them because Jenny Han’s characters are always really well developed and lovable.
While, at first, Lara Jean seemed a very whiny and annoying main character to follow, I grew to love her quirks. Her range of emotions would spike from high to low very quickly and her fleeting interest in more than one boy seemed very authentic for a teenage girl. I don’t know many young girls that sustain a crush for much longer than a few months before moving on to the next love-of-their-life. As far as the love triangle in the novel goes, I was Team Josh until about halfway through when I realised he was also moany and irritating. Not to mention the fact that he kisses his ex-girlfriend’s sister only months after they break up. YET HE CALLS PETER THE DOUCHEBAG?!?!?
I love Kavinsky. Traditionally handsome, arrogantly charming but has a soft squishy heart underneath his cool guy exterior. Everything I want in a romantic lead. I can’t be the only reader that squealed every time Kavinsky was sweet to Lara-Jean’s little sister, Kitty. Their relationship is just adorable. I love Kitty too. She’s spunky, feisty and takes no prisoners – reminds me of my own little sister which is probably why I could relate to Lara Jean as a protagonist so much.
The ending was slightly anti-climactic for me after finally falling in love with the book but I suppose Jenny Han was leaving it very open ended for the sequel. I would have liked more closure between Lara Jean and Kavinsky. It was a smart move on Han and the publishers’ parts because now I just have to buy P.S I Still Love You to find out what happens next.
Have you read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before? What did you think?