I am thoroughly disappointed with reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. The movie had my heart so warm and fuzzy. I had doubts about the movie, but it delighted me. I expected the same energy from the book, but it just wasn’t there for me at all.
I don’t think it’s because it’s YA; I have been reading a lot of YA in the last year and I enjoy them. This book just feels like cotton candy, and I don’t like cotton candy (it made me sick that one time and I haven’t eaten it since). I am trying to grasp for substance, but my hands keep coming up empty.
I picked out a few themes in the book, but I read more advanced themes in middle school. I honestly spent most of the book comparing it to the movie, and that makes for a bad reading experience.
I don’t think I have a favorite part. My loyalty is with Peter K, but the book seems to be setting up Josh as endgame (and this is only after reading the first book. Spoilers welcomed because I don’t think I will get around to finishing the book series). There are some sweet moments between Laura Jean and Peter, but none of them especially stand out to me, nor do they top the movie.
Laura Jean wasn’t especially interesting and didn’t have some great character arc, but it could just be premature since I’m only a third into the series. She does seem to be moving out of her sister’s shadow into her own person.
I think I would have given up on this book if they didn’t talk about her being Korean at all. It doesn’t come up as much in the movie, so I guess I can appreciate that (even though it doesn’t come up enough in the book in my opinion). Despite her being half Korean, she has a very white experience. They could have talked about dating interracially. Or how they are seen when navigating through the world with their white father.
They do talk briefly about Halloween costumes and cooking sometimes. And that one time her experience was compared to being outed.
Love triangles stress me out (even though that’s all they do in K Dramas and I always end up liking the second lead waaay more). Someone will always get hurt, and it’s usually the person I like more.
I feel for the people who read the book first. They were probably crazy that Josh wasn’t as much of a developed character in the movie as he was in the book. But since I watched the movie first and didn’t gaf about Josh, the emphasized love triangle stressed me out. It was too much back and forth.
None of this was my teen experience. Well, except for the part where I grew up in a single parent household and had to take over some caretaking responsibilities (although not that much and I still had the other parent around). And I was a goody in high school (except what I read). And to some extent some of the race stuff.
Everything was better in the movie! I don’t think I have enjoyed a movie so much more than the book! The movie was just so much more diverse, and the plot was much neater. And Peter Kavinski can have my whole heart. He’s not as bleh as he is in the book. And usually movie pacing irks me because things wrap up so much neater and inorganically, but it works here!
In conclusion, I didn’t love this book, so I will continue to get all my feelz from the movie.