To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (TATBILB), by Jenny Han, is a young adult, coming of age romance novel that tugs at your nostalgic heartstrings and makes you yearn for that high school sweetheart that got away.
Laura Jean Covey navigates through high school, heartbreak, and a romantic hoax. When her love letters are sent unbeknownst to her, Covey’s life is sent spiraling, forcing her to come to terms with one thing: she’s no longer a kid.
The character development in the novel is truly inspiring. As I moved along in the story with Laura Jean, I felt like I was able to connect with her and her growth. So much so that when the story ended, I was genuinely both happy and sad.
Happy because not only did Laura Jean, or “Large” as her friends call her, have to reconcile herself in order to overcome obstacles she is faced with, but we are given glimpses into her past that explain her present disposition.
Sad because at the end of a good read, you should always be left with an emptiness and longing for the people whom you’ve invested a lot of time with. It shouldn’t matter if they’re real people or not, they were real in the moments you spent with them. This book gives you that.
The story itself is a bit cheesy, but I feel like the author meant for it to be that way. Simple but easily relatable. I found myself wanting to write letters to everyone I’ve ever loved. Then, I imagined what it would be like if those letters were accidentally sent, just like in Large’s case. Yikes.
TATBILB, as of this year, has a film adaptation on Netflix that, in my opinion, keeps true to the main plot with very subtle changes. The movie depicts Laura Jean and the other characters perfectly and, because the movie was such a hit, turned the book into an automatic classic.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves other modern young adult classics such as “The Perks of Being a Wall Flower”, “The Fault in Out Stars”, and “Call Me By Your Name”. It really holds up.
4 out of 5 stars.