Synopsis: Lara Jean’s love life gets complicated in this New York Times bestselling “lovely, lighthearted romance” from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.
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.
Like…it didn’t take a long time to read. It was fun sometimes. Significantly less fun at others. Good characters, bad characters, couldn’t-care-less-will-forget-their-names-ASAP-could-you-BE-any-flatter characters. It was just a very eh read this time around. What is there to say?
Well, I can say a lot. This is me we’re talking about, guys. You could hand me a sewing machine instruction manual and I’d end up writing a thousand-word review on the “not like other girls” trope.
Which, speaking of…That beast rears its ugly f*cking head in this book. Good lord. Most books go for the subtle infusion of girl-hating, like…lowkey slut-shaming, or something. No, this book drops it right in there. Shamelessly, in the middle of some dialogue. Direct and straight to the veins: “You’re not like other girls.”
And it doesn’t end there.
Okay, wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. For the six people on my blog who haven’t read this book, we follow Lara Jean, a very cutesy lil thing who wears ribbons in her hair and calls her father and dead mother “Daddy” and “Mommy.” She has two sisters, Margot, the replacement mother who leaves for college at the beginning of the book, and Kitty, who is nine and my absolute life force. When Lara Jean wants to get over a crush, she writes a letter, puts it in an envelope, adds the address and return address for some reason, and then puts it into a box, never to be seen again. Like, WHAT? How does that make sense? Why does that fit into the equation? You’re just asking for those letters to end up in the sweaty hands of your crush from middle school.
Anyway, GUESS WHAT HAPPENS? Yes – gasp! – all of Lara Jean’s letters get sent! Including the one to her family friend and sister’s newly-ex-boyfriend, Josh. In order to avoid any awkwardness, Lara Jean immediately launches into a Fake Relationship™ with popular boy extraordinaire and letter recipient Peter Kavinsky. It makes very little sense. But then again, fake relationship storylines rarely do.
So, Josh is the skeezeball who brought you that delightful incorporation of the not-like-other-girls trope, and he has more hits coming! Notably, when rubbing his dumb little nose in Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship: “You don’t act like you. You act like…like how all girls act around him. That’s not you, Lara Jean.” That fresh not like other girls line plus general gross-dude syndrome? Awesome. Love it.
Also, there are like, no healthy girl friendships in this book. Lara Jean has one female friend, Chris, who has no characteristics except being rebellious/slutty. Classic. The gal rarely communicates with Lara Jean, except to make fun of her. (Oh, my God. I am barely into this review and I am already so tired of typing out “Lara Jean.” GET A ONE-WORD NAME.) Lara Jean makes a handful of friends in this, kind of, but they’re all male and Peter’s. And a girl is also the total villain here. So that sucks. Not a female-friendly or feminist book.
Except…the sisters. Yay, the Song sisters. I love them so much. (Mostly Kitty.) Their relationship is a tad idyllic, except when it suddenly veers into Drama, but it’s so cute and fun to read about them.
Especially Kitty. Ah, Kitty. She’s not realistic, but she’s a teeny, manipulative nine-year-old badass who says stuff like “I want to watch my shows.” Ugh. Please give me a book that’s just Kitty. A TRILOGY that’s just Kitty. This book is going on my i-love-these-characters shelf on Goodreads based solely upon the merits of that lil badass.
Let’s talk more about the characters. Lara Jean, as I mentioned, is a baby. So that’s pretty exhausting. She’s just, like, very immature and everything freaks her out and she cries a lot. She’s also a bad sister a lot of the time. Like, Margot will be in flippin’ SCOTLAND and she’ll email her like “School is fine for me. Boring, boring. No further questions.” Plus she makes fun of Kitty for having a crush in front of her crush. HOW COULD YOU.
In terms of the male characters…Josh is the worst. I never saw his appeal, let alone why all three Song sisters would have a crush on him at the same time. Let alone why Lara Jean would threaten her relationship with her best friend/sister over him. He’s a total snoozefest and a dweeb and he says stuff like what I’ve quoted above and he’s the worst.
Peter is also just so eh. I probably liked this book more when I first read it because I probably had a crush on a him-type at the time. Like, some sporty popular guy who was funny but also kind of a d*ck and I wanted to ignore all red flags and pretend he was into me.
No shame if that describes you. We all go through it, man. That’s what high school is, in a nutshell.
Anyway. I’m not very into that type anymore, so ol’ Pete just didn’t do it for me. He just seemed kind of skeevy, even manipulative – a couple times Lara Jean says things like, “Peter always has a way of getting me to do things I don’t want to do.” Give me the nerdy type any day, man.
More good stuff: This book is real descriptive and I loved it. There’s always an in-depth look at Lara Jean’s outfits, and the mentions of food made me get up and cook something twice. TWICE. A grilled cheese and some snickerdoodles. (Well, in reality there wasn’t enough sugar to make snickerdoodles, but I’ll get there.)
When I first started reading this – like, first fifty pages or so – I thought this was going to be one star. So many dumped-in descriptions and the writing was really choppy and it was just…ugh. I knew that past-me was a far kinder reviewer, but I didn’t think it was a four-star difference.
And then, it got better!
And then, it got bad again.
The ending of this book was so awful! I can’t believe it was supposed to be a standalone originally. It was just so rushed. The sister relationship was suddenly healed, the relationship drama was suddenly over, Josh suddenly didn’t suck with no explanation. Bleh. And then it just…ended. Literally on a fragment of a sentence. Guh.
So, I dunno. I was looking forward to binge reading this trilogy since the new one released recently, but this book STOLE THE WIND FROM MY SAILS. ALSO REMOVED IT FROM BENEATH MY WINGS, ETC.
Bottom line: This wasn’t awful. It was exactly eh.