Hey All! Okay, so I had one reading goal initially for myself when entering this New Year of 2019 for when it came to dealing with the topic of what books to read. I had the goal of reading more novels that don’t have any adaptations as of yet, you know read to read and not watch a film/tv version of it afterwards.
Okay, so as you can tell by now the first book that I finished reading in this year of 2019 so far was indeed a book that does in fact have an adaptation. At some point during this New Year, I do hope to read more books that don’t have an adaptation at the point I’m reading them, I promise. Technically, I did start to read “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” during the late fall months of 2018 before the New Year began so that reading goal of mine didn’t yet apply, I’ll say. And being somewhat of a slow bookworm reader I finished reading this novel a few months later. So even though I started reading this in late 2018, I didn’t finish reading it until the second week of January. Thus, making it my first official book read of 2019! Oh, for how exciting it is for that moment where you finish reading just a really great book, you know! Slow Bookworm Reader (that is I) says a “Heck Yes” to that!
All throughout the Summer of 2018 there was much talk on the blogs/ twitter/ magazines about this book called “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before”, that had been adapted into a film on Netflix. This is where book adaptations are actually quite awesome. It exposes us bookworms that aren’t maybe quite as in the know when it comes to books and makes these books now front and center stage in our view. Hence, I was made more aware of this book and its book series. I got the book over the summer when there was all the talk about the Netflix adaptation being just about everywhere. Being that indecisive gal when it comes to deciding what to read next I, or course, didn’t end up reading this book until months later after its purchase. Oh, but the life of indecisive bookworm gal that is I!
I finally decide on reading this book after reading two intense thrillers back to back. These two thrillers that I had read were the novels of YOU and its sequel Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes. Really crazy and twisted reads, but excellent thriller reads, I have to say. YOU was, in fact, my favorite book read of 2018! Total recommend if you like yourself one heck of a thriller read (and the TV Adaptation is perfection!).
After those crazy thriller reads which I did very much love, I have to say though I was very much now in the mood for a change of genre. YOU centered around the most twisted, crazy and all around disturbing story told from the perspective of the madman. So for my next read if a love story was going to be involved at all, I was hoping for one where all the characters made it to the end of the story. A book read not so intense, one a little more light hearted, per say. So being indecisive, as you may have picked up by now, I wasn’t sure what I was going to read after reading those incredible but oh so twisted thriller reads. Then I saw my copy of “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han on my pile of books that I had yet to read. You know that pile of books that you “just must have when you go to the bookstore” and then take forever to actually get around to reading those books that you just had to have when you where at the bookstore. You know, those books.
Now that I’ve babble your ear off enough about what lead me to finally getting around to picking up my copy of “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” to read, now on to my actual thoughts of this novel……
Book: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Genre: YA Fiction – Romance
Series: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is the first book in a series that consists of three books total
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is about a girl named Lara Jean Convey. She’s a high school student. She’s the middle daughter of a family of three girls. Family means everything to Lara Jean, whose Mother had died earlier in her life. Her sisters Margot and Kitty, are not just her sisters but her best friends. With her Father being a doctor he is gone a lot of the time. Lara Jean and her sisters take care of each other because they know how special and important it is to be there for family.
After their Mother had passed away the Conveys sisters grew up fast in many ways. Being responsible for things around the house. Cleaning, making meals, doing laundry, are all things and responsibilities that Lara Jean has besides her schoolwork. Even though those kind of things are considered chores and sometimes they are to her, Lara Jean likes taking care of her family. They are everything to her. When her Mother passed away, Lara Jean along with her sisters stepped up to help take care of the family. Everyone pitches in to help one another to make life as okay as it can be. They have each other and that is everything. So to Lara Jean helping out with household things can sometimes be annoying, but at the end of everything when it comes to her family she is okay with lending a helping hand when one is needed.
Lara Jean lives a simple life. One she loves. There’s never any kind of drama in it. That all changes one day. You see anytime Lara Jean has ever had a crush or truly liked a boy and didn’t know how to handle her feelings she would do one thing. To try and forget these feelings of hers so she could move on emotionally she would she would write a good-bye love letter to her crush. In this letter she writes down and says everything she feels. Once she has completed writing down all her emotions from pen to paper, she then puts the letter into an envelope and then into a hat box (given to her by her late Mother). After the letter has been written and stashed away into the hat box she is now done with those feelings. She didn’t have to embarrass herself or get a possible rejection, free of any drama. She has written her feelings to this crush, puts the letter in the hat box, and that’s that.
That’s how Lara Jean has always gotten over someone, she writes these letters. These personal letters with all her true feelings about someone. These letters which were never meant to be seen by anyone, let alone the guys she wrote them to. All of a sudden one day at school one of these past crushes of hers walks up to her with one of these good-by love letters. The unthinkable has happened! Somehow all these good-bye love letters that she has written have been mailed out and sent to these past crushes of hers from once upon a time. These personal letters with all her true feelings that were never meant to actually be seen by these crushes have now somehow made there way to them…… to all of them! And worst of all, one these past crushes is that of Lara Jean’s sister’s boyfriend!
These letters that Lara Jean had written were meant to be just for her eyes only. Only now though, these letters that were meant to be just for her eyes only are now known to these past crushes making Lara Jean’s drama-free world go upside down. How did this happen? And better yet, how will she deal with this disaster of this mess that she could never have predicted happening?
I really, really liked this novel. It was simply such a delight to read after reading a few crazy and twisted thriller reads. Han wrote a story here that is just so sweet, fun, charming and just plain good. I thought it was an interesting thing Lara Jean would do when she would have a crush on someone. Instead of confronting her feelings or telling her crush how she felt, she would do nothing but write down her feelings to this said crush. Once she wrote these good-bye love letters to loves that would never be, she herself could move on from these feelings. It was her way of saying good-bye to a crush without embarrassing herself, so she could move on emotionally from her feelings towards someone she liked.
It’s interesting that instead of pursuing any of these potential relationships (well the Josh one is understandable) Lara Jean let go of any possibility that there might have been with any these guys that she had liked. For all she knew they might have had feelings for her in return, but without ever letting it get that far, she pushed those feelings away once she wrote her letters.
Lara Jean is wise beyond her years and I kind of thought this way to get over a crush was kind of genius. A lot of the times when most people like someone, they might pursue a potential relationship. Although, there’s the potential also of embarrassing yourself in front of that crush and in many ways I think these letters Lara Jean wrote to get over her crushes was actually very clever and quite brilliant. Even though, I do kind of think this was a genius way to get over someone, at the same time I’m also thinking, “Girl, but why?! Your crush might actually feel what you feel!”. I get it though. She was afraid of any possible rejection, embarrassment or hurt feelings, and for that I feel it’s super relatable for her not confronting her feelings in any way to any of these crushes of hers.
When these love letters mysteriously get sent to her crushes, I thought it was a very cute rom-com classic move to have Lara Jean suggest that her and Peter (a recipient of one of Lara Jean’s letters) pretend that they are a couple to avoid any confrontation with Josh. Instead of dealing with all that Josh drama, here was a potential way to avoid any of that because she has a “boyfriend” now. Peter also benefits from this plan because he isn’t quite over his ex-girlfriend Gen. Peter hopes that when Gen sees him with another girl she’ll want to get back together again. I loved this whole thing of “Lara Jean and Peter Are In A Relationship” because usually in these rom-com like scenarios the people who are pretending to be in a relationship always end up liking each other for real eventually at some point.
I think Lara Jean was such a well written character. I really liked how she just seemed very genuine. She may not have confronted her feelings in the conventional ways others do. She may have held back, but a lot of us do that and it just made her more relatable. She’s very smart, kind and her own person. Towards the end of the book, I liked how there was the possibility of Lara Jean putting those fears of “what if this doesn’t work” aside with Peter and writing a letter to him saying how she feels (Will she send it? Guess I’ll have to read the sequel for that answer). There is hope that Lara Jean isn’t so afraid now of possibly falling for Peter and that possibility of him have the same feelings for her in return. Maybe that possibility for an actual relationship could happen after all. And with two more books in the series franchise, that might in fact happen after all!
After I finished reading this book, I finally watched the movie adaptation on Netflix. I was super excited to finally at last watch it because I had heard such good things about this adaptation. Sometimes with book adaptations, it can be tricky. There’s that whole thing of “Will this adaptation live up to the greatness that the book was?”. With a story such as this one, I think it was the right call to make it a film adaptation vs. a television series one. If told properly a film adaptation seemed like a better fit to tell this story, especially with the whole rom-com aspect.
And I thought this adaptation was…….. PERFECTION!!!!! The film just captured the essence of the story Han wrote on paper so perfectly! It was an excellent adaptation completely and I would say if you loved the book, have no fear for this was an adaptation that did in fact “live up to the book in every way”! Sure, there were a few changes here and there as with any book that gets adapted, but those moments that weren’t exactly identical to the book still completely worked and weren’t the type of changes that needed any complaining about.
Changes From Book To Film- Thoughts:
-Josh was much less featured in the film, unlike within the book. I mean much less! In the book, Josh was pretty much what one would call a “major supporting character”. In the film version, he was much less present. Showing up here and there. Where with the book it showed Josh and Peter almost equally, the film focus more on the relationship of Lara Jean and Peter.
-Kitty had different reasons for sending the letters out in the book vs. the movie. In the book, Kitty sends these love letters of Lara Jean’s to her crushes out of a moment of anger because she was mad at Lara Jean. In the film, she does it because she wants Lara Jean to be happy and have a relationship.
-The ending was slightly different. Instead of writing a letter to Peter (as in the book), Lara Jean confronts Peter and tells him exactly how she feels towards him. I liked both versions of the ending that the book and film had. In the book it made sense for Lara Jean to write a letter to Peter. It was a sweet ending for the first book. In the film, it made more sense to have to that moment of Lara Jean walking courageously towards Peter to say her feelings in person. This ending just worked better for the film. By ending the film in this way there was that chance to have that iconic rom- com kind of moment where everything is on the line and that feeling of “Okay, Well Here I Go” is in the air. This kind of ending was just better suited for the film rather than her writing a letter to him. Instead she was in the moment being honest with her feelings face to face with someone, instead of pen to paper for ultimately something no one else would ever see or know about.
Those were the changes that stood out for me. I thought for the film these changes still fit in well with the story. There were differences from page to screen, sure. But in no way were these changes for the story anything to be annoyed about as a reader of the book. These were just some slight creative differences that were made for this adaptation of page to screen.
Casting For Film:
I thought the movie adaptation was just simply perfectly cast. I loved how the casting was a mixture of a few familiar faces, but for the most part largely unknown actors (up to this point, but of course). Unknowns who definitely were no longer of the “Whose that?” category after this movie premiered on Netflix.
The cast included a few past TV Favorites such as John Corbett (Sex & The City, Parenthood) as Lara Jean’s Father and Janel Parrish (Pretty Little Liars, upcoming spinoff of PLL “The Perfectionists”) as Lara Jean’s older sister, Margot. They were both great in the movie. Although, the actor that shined the most would by that of Lana Condor, who played the lead role of Lara Jean in the adaptation. I wasn’t aware of Condor before seeing her performance as Lara Jean. Although after seeing her in this film, Condor is definitely an up and coming actor to look out for.
Condor was the perfect choice to play the part of Lara Jean. She performed the part with confidence, strength and still had the ability to come across as vulnerable when it came to love. Her performance stood out and was memorable. For such a popular book franchise where there would be a lot of expectation for whoever would end up playing the part of Lara Jean Convey when an adaptation would come out, could breathe a sigh of relief moments after seeing what Condor brought to the part.
The Relationship of Lara Jean and Peter:
After Lara Jean, the next crucial piece of casting would be for that of the character of Peter Kavinsky. Peter was played in the film by another up and coming actor, Noah Centineo. Casting of this part was just as key as Lara Jean because the “relationship” of Lara Jean and Peter had to come across as believable. Even if they weren’t really dating or liked each other (at first). Fans of the book, have no fear the part of Peter was perfectly cast in Centineo. Condor and Contineo had exactly the right amount of chemistry and acted off of each other just perfectly.
The storyline throughout the book for that of Lara Jean and Peter was basically to pretend to being in a relationship. A relationship that would hopefully though seem very real to Josh and Gen. This is very much a major storyline in the book. So for the movie the casting of these two leads who would be in almost every scene together was important to get right. And it was! You could feel these two characters slowly falling for each other. The casting was once again perfect for a major part of the story that you wanted to come across as believable and genuine. And it was.
So simply put, if you’re looking for a read (with an adaptation available that is equally as great) that is fun, lovely, charming, and adorable with some drama here and there while still being very light hearted and sweet, look no further than “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han. Han writes a story that reminds us how when we are young everything seems so important and so big in the moment. How in the moment everything might seem so big and major when taking a risk and not knowing how it might end. But with a little bit time of eventually things fall into place.