I expected A LOT more, considering this is a book that cementing the horror genre.
I wasn't at all scared, only in the end a little disguised more than creeped out. Plus there were some parts of the book which dragged out a little.
I gave it two stars only because I really liked the family dynamics.
I began reading to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on a whim. I didn’t plan on it. I just saw it in my Kindle and bam! I started reading it.
I’ve had heard good things about the book and the author in the booktube and blogosphere community especially about her first trilogy : The Summer I Turned Pretty. I mean Regan loves it and raves about it non-stop saying each and every time how surprised is she that this trilogy has depth and meaning and it is so much more than a YA romance. And that is saying something, especially considering that Regan doesn’t read many contemporary novels, she’s more the high - fantasy - book - type - of - girl. (She’s also one of my favourite booktubers so you can check her out here:
Anyway back to the book. I did not in any way expect to like this book as much as I did. I mean I was squealing and smiling and making weird ahhhh and uhhhhs throughout the entire book. I was like:
You know how many people say that their favourite YA romance-funny-heartwarming book is Anna and The French Kiss? I was one of these people until recently. When someone asks, now I’ll have my response at the tip of my tongue: To All The Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han. This book guys!!!!
Now enough of my fangirling. Let’s get down to business. Let me first tell you what’s this book about.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before revolves around a sixteen year old girl called Lara Jean. She’s the middle sister of three. When she was little her mom died from an inconspicuous accident while she was in the kitchen. I really liked the fact that her mother hadn’t died from a car accident or because she had some terminal disease because we see plenty of these deaths in YA now. I liked that Jenny Han choose to write it this way because there are many times when little accidents have these repercussions and we really have to be careful. It isn’t right, but this is life. Anyway, since her mother’s death her big sister Margot took care of everything. Lara Jean helped of course, even Kitty the little sister did her part.
There are many aspects of the book that I like, but I mostly appreciate the family bonds and the sisterly love that this book explored. It was unexpectedly realistic. Margot was the strong sister. She never cried, she always gave Lara Jean her support and advices like only a big sister would and she was both a mother and a sister for the little one, Kitty. She was the one who remembered mom the most and it was the hardest for her but she never expressed her emotions. This was the sister that kept the house running, that kept their dad organised, that kept the house going. So for the family it was a hard and sad experience when Margot decides to go to Scotland for college. All the responsibilities that Margot once had, rest on the shoulders of Lara Jean, who’s the optimistic sister. Lara Jean is your normal type of girl. She likes baking, she likes reading but not as much as her sister Margot, she took up knitting, she likes vintage stuff, she doesn’t have many friend, she loves her sisters and her dad and she considers Margot her guide, the example that she should follow.
Ahhh, and I forgot one small detail: she writes letters to all the boys that she had ever loved!! There aren’t many letters, only five and one of those is a letter dedicated to her sister’s boyfriend, Josh. You see, she writes these letters so that she could pour all her heart out and then seal it in this special box her mom gave it to her. She never intends to send them out. It’s just a way to express her feelings and forget them forever. And it doesn’t really matter because since Josh and Margot were together she never looked him thay way. Josh is a big part of their family. He is their neighbor and comes often to their house. Her dad loves him because he can finally talk to a guy and do guy stuff as he is only surrounded by females. Their dad really really tries. And the Song girls (they name themselves after their mother’s surname) really really try to not upset daddy.
Back to Josh. Lara Jean continually repeats how much he loves her sister and vice versa. Josh is funny, caring, kind and patient. Even Kitty, who is the feisty, the always - gets - what - she - wants sister loves him. So when Margot decides to break up with him before going to college, because she doesn’t want to go to college with a boyfriend and (according to her) long distance relationships will only make her lose focus, Lara Jean is shocked. She sees how much they love each other and she is heartbroken for them but she is a firm believer that they will get back together.
The school year finally starts and we see Lara Jean doing what every girl does, changing her wardrobe, picking the outfit for the first day, getting excited about school. Little does she know that she would die of embarrassment. Strangely and weirdly enough all the love letters that she has ever written are sent out to their recipients. Peter Kravinsky -her old times friend, her first kiss, handsome in a kind of old fashioned way, popular, vain, with a big big ego and part of the lacrosse team - receives a letter too and goes to tease Lara Jean. She then understand what has been done. To say she was embarrassed is nothing. She would want to crawl into a hole and sleep and cry and never show her face in public. When Josh confronts her, she quickly cuts him off and says that none of that matters because she has a boyfriend and in a split moment decision she goes and kisses Kravinsky. So begins a pretend - to - be - together - to - get - over - our - crushes relationship (for Kravinsky it was more like get - his - ex-girlfriend - jealous - and -trying - to - forget - her type of relationship.) They set some ground rules and off they go.
Throughout the entire book we see a progression. We see how Lara Jean begins to rely on and have faith on herself, begins to be more competent and learns from her mistakes. All she wants to do is to make her family happy. We see how she deals with her sister’s departure, how she begins to go out more and be part of a group, how she tries to stay calm and patient even when Kitty gets on her nerves, how she tries to support her daddy. We see Kitty, how she tries to be more mature, how she copes with her sister leaving, how she begins to help around the house more. We see their dad trying to be there for his girls, trying to talk, understand and please them, trying to make them Korean food so they don’t forget their mother’s origins. We see how Lara Jean and Peter relationship develops and they start to become friends.
There aren’t any fluffy - cheesy stuff said, thank God. Peter and Josh and every occasional guy portrayed in this book are your everyday type of guy. They don’t have model bodies, do not deliver lines that you only see in movies or read in corny romance novels and they don’t understand girls. But they are good boys and they do say nice things or do nice stuff.
I liked the way it ended. When I started it, I thought it was a standalone but it turns out it is part of a trilogy. I would liked it even as a standalone. Nevertheless I’m so pumped up about the second book!!
This may be my lengthiest review (if that’s even a word) until now. I hope I’ve said everything I wanted to say even though I’m sure as soon as I post this review, other things will come in my mind.
To sum up, I think anyone who loves YA books should absolutely read it. It hasn’t got a deep deep meaning, it doesn’t pose existential questions but however it is a very honest portrayal of family bonds, young love and personal growth. It is such a HEARTWARMING book.
My heart is bursting right now!! This book...this book....this book...
I'm having a very hard time articulating what my thoughts are about it. They are indescribable.
"Tell the Wolves I'm Home" is a coming of age story told by a 13-year-old girl June. She had just lost her uncle Finn to AIDS and the story follows her trying to overcome her grief and trying to come to terms with not only her complicated feelings towards her uncle but also with herself.
Every single character is beautifully layered and constructed. We have June, this little girl who is honest, melancholic, jealous, selfish, imaginative and trustworthy. Then we have Toby, the guy for whom my heart broke again and again and again. He is the guy who suffered more than anyone because of other people's mistakes and actions. He is the guy who tries to understand and the guy who you can call at midnight or talk without saying nothing at all. After Toby comes Uncle Finn, who technically isn't a character as much as a memory but becomes one through Toby and June's recollections. And through them you come to love Uncle Finn too. Next we have Greta, June's older sister with whom June had a complicated relationship. Greta, the girl who seemed to have all her future mapped out, the popular one, the one who makes her parents proud and the one who suffers so much inside. And finally, we got June and Greta's parents that even though are secondary characters are portrayed as carefully as they were the main ones.
The relationships between June and her uncle Finn, between Toby and Finn, between June and Greta, between the girls and their parents but especially between June and Toby where the gems of this book. The story is ordinary, plain but the characters and their interactions are what made this book so special.
Now because I can't contain myself, I'll share some of my favorite quotes and passages from the book:
"So tell me, Miss Elbus, what fascinates you about the Middle Ages?"
I crossed my arms over my chest and gave him a look.
"No. Really," he said in his normal voice. "I want to know."
It was the question that made me go completely dumb. I almost thought about pretending I hadn't heard it, but I knew he'd try again. My brain flickered past all the possible answers. Castles; knights; dark; candlelit nights; Gregorian chants; and dresses that came right down to your feet. Books that had to be copied out by hand and decorated by monks in the most beautiful colors. Books that were illuminated so they glowed.
"Maybe....I don't know... Maybe it's just that people didn't know everything then. There were things people had never seen before. Places nobody had ever been. You could make up a story and people would believe it. You could believe in dragons and saints. You could look around at plants and think that maybe they could save your life."
I'd been staring at the rug the whole time, because I had a reeling I wasn't making any sense and Toby might be laughing at me. But when I glanced up, I saw he wasn't. He was nodding.
"I like that," he said.
"Really?" I watched Toby to see if he really meant it and, when I was convinced that he did, I went on. "And, well, also maybe it seems like it would okay not to be perfect. Nobody was perfect back then. Just about everyone was defective, and most people had no choice except to stay that way."
"We stood there under that awning until I could feel he was crying too. The click of Toby's mint against his teeth, and the high squeal of car brakes, and the rain plinking on the canvas over our heads all joined with our low deep sobs to make a kind of music that afternoon. It turned the whole city into a chorus of our sadness, and after a while it almost stopped feeling bad and turned into something else. It started to feel like relief."
I thought how there was a kind of power in being needed. In having a purpose. I could feel it hardening up my bones and thickening my blood. I felt older and smarter than anyone else I knew. I could do anything, anything at all."
You don't need sex for that king of thing to happen. For your body to forget how to hell if it's hungry or not. For your to mistake someone else's hunger for your own."
See how alluring and appealing is the writing? I swear, Carol Rifka Brunt can write about the most random thing and make it look like you're reading something special. See how intricate is Toby and June's relationship? How delicate?!?
And after some pages there is a passage where my heart completely melts but I guess it's kind of a spoiler and plus I have to keep some things away otherwise I will end up writing down all the book. I will just say the passage is when Toby and June are in the basement and June looks at Finn's paintings.
Here is one of my top three favorite passage(and the last one I'm going to share here):
It seemed like life was a sort of narrowing tunnel. Right when you were born, the tunnel was huge. You could be anything. Then, like, the absolute second after you were born, the tunnel narrowed down to about half the size. You were a boy, and already certain you wouldn't be a mother and it was likely you wouldn't become a manicurist or a kindergarten teacher. Then you started to grow up and everything you did closed the tunnel in some more. You broke your arm climbing a tree and you ruled out being a baseball pitcher. You failed every math test that you ever took and you canceled any hope of being a scientist. Like that. On and on through the years until you were struck. You'd become a baker or a librarian or a bartender. Or an accountant. And there you were. I figured that on the day you died, the tunnel would be so narrow, you'd have squeezed yourself in with so many choices, that you just got squashed.
And with that my friends I urge to read Tell The Wolves I'm Home ASAP!!