What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
Jenny Han has a magic about her that makes all of the live action growing pains of high school something that you'll be nostalgic for years afterward. Lara Jean is thoughtful and romantic with a heart for vintage and love letters, and I couldn't help but fall in love with her. She shares the idealistic sensibilities that my best friend and I shared in high school. Jenny Han has validated romantic hearted idealists everywhere via Lara Jean! She writes letters to all of her past loves, throwing her whole heart on to the page for closure. One day she wakes up to find that all of her letters were mailed out to all of the boys she's written to, including, Josh, a guy she's loved but who chose her older sister Margot instead. I thoroughly enjoyed Lara Jean's character growth and adventures as she deals with the aftermath, and even more, Peter, the guy who knows how to push all of her buttons. I loved how they get to know each other, and Lara's realization that the way you picture life in your head, may not be what you actually want.
Through them we explore themes of unrequited love, toxic relationships, and opening up. One of my favorite bits of the novel is it's exploration of self sabotage. Being a romantic, it can be so easy to fall for someone and paint a whole story in your mind about them, what they eat, the things like to do, what they believe. But when faced with the reality of them in the flesh, it can be frightening, or even deflating. It made me ask myself, why is it so easy to fall in love with someone from a distance, when life is waiting to show you something tangible. Something real.
Other bits I enjoyed were Lara Jean's relationship with her perfectionist older sister, Margot, and younger sister, Kitty who is such a delight to read. Their dynamic with their father, and all of the ways they keep their traditions is heartwarming. I just...this novel affected me in quite surprising ways. I had been drawn to it for a while, and I'm happy I finally gave in, and more so, that there's a sequel because although, I don't necessarily consider the ending a cliffhanger...I'm happy I can head right out to Barnes and Noble and pick up the next installment. This novel is adorable and lighthearted with just enough heavy to make it great. It came to me when I needed a reminder that tangible relationships exist and I should appreciate them more. Also, there's room for idealistic romantics in the world.
And can I just linger a little bit more on it's inspiring aesthetics? I love vintage clothing, and record players, and hand written letters, and I adored the cover photography, and would decorate my space like this any day. Dried flower crowns, Paris and Macarons, and Peter Pan collars...stop my heart!