Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Book Discussion: To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Our third ever book discussion! We're excited. This time, no vampires or things that go bump in the night. Without further ado, To All The Boys I've Loved Before...

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! If you haven't read the book yet, be careful of what you read from this point on. Few spoilers throughout. But if you've read the book, then join us!

1. If you could smack any of the characters upside the head, who would it be and why?

Keira: I think the only characters I wouldn't smack upside the head are Kitty, Peter, and the dad. Honestly, the heroine was immature and naive to the point of annoying. It is rare in the YA genre that I find a heroine that I do care for, or can relate to. The oldest sister was the worst, though. Very judgmental and bossy. She took on the role as “Mommy” at a young age and did everything she could for her two younger sisters, so in a way I did feel sympathetic towards her, and understood her overbearing actions.

Nikki: I agree so much. But I would add Josh in there too. At first I was head over heels for him but then I realized that he is as much to blame as say Lara Jean or Margot. I would smack him mostly to make him get a freaking clue and leave these song girls alone!

Keira: Yeah, I’m definitely not team Josh, either. He crossed lines and made me think he wasn't the good guy I originally suspected him to be.

2. What do you think will happen next to the main characters?

Keira: I’m not sure what I think will happen, HOWEVER, I know what I would like to happen. Lara Jean shut Peter out, right? Right. I mean, yeah, he could have taken up for her a bit more, but it’s obvious the guy really likes her. I’m an “all is fair in love and war” kinda girl. Now that she realizes she does care about Peter and she’s writing him a letter, I think she needs to know what he felt when she turned her back on him. Lara Jean might just be the blindest seeing character I've ever read about. It would do her some good to get a taste of what Peter felt. That said, I AM TEAM PETER. I ship PeterJean, and do hope to see them together.

Nikki: I agree and disagree with that. I love the idea of PeterJean but mostly I think because Peter seemed like such a likable character. Part of me thinks that Lara Jean would still be scared to make that jump even though she made some steps toward the end of the book. I would like for Lara Jean to do some growing up. She came across as very immature and wistful. For Peter I would love for him to rid himself of the witch that is Genevieve. She was not my favorite.

3. Do the main characters change by the end of the book?

Keira: Not so much. Habits change, but not the characters themselves. I know, I know, I’m talking a lot about Peter, but he seemed to be the only one that changed, and it was for the better. He was pretty douchey, but as he warmed up to Lara Jean you could see the stereotype mask slip away. There really wasn't much character development. From the get you knew who Lara Jean was. You knew who Margot was. You knew who Kitty was. The sister were pretty consistent throughout. I keep wanting to say that Josh changed, but did he? Kissing Lara Jean wouldn't really be considered “changing”, it just made him wishy-washy. Though, I suspect the only reason that happened was because he missed Margot and in a way was trying to replace her.

Nikki: Hell no! There was no real development. I feel that Lara Jean was stuck in her ways from beginning to end. Some of her habits were okay but her overall view of the world seemed to stay the same. I think the only change I kinda saw was in Margot. Even though she started and pretty much stayed a control freak, having her world rocked by the kiss between Lara Jean and Josh, seeing that her sisters were actually growing up, it made her a bit more vulnerable. Yes, Peter did change for the better. I think his progression from when we first meet him to where he is in the end is a small one but I think we are also seeing Peter from Lara Jean’s eyes and the change isn't so dramatic to her because she seems to be so closed off to change.

4. How did you experience the book? Were you engaged immediately, or did it take you a while to “get into it”? How did you feel reading it?

Keira: It only took a couple chapters for me to message Nikki and say, “To All the Boys I've Loved Before” is a feel good book!” I wasn't immediately engaged, however, it didn't take very long. It was a light read about love, or maybe lack thereof, and family. It kept me entertained until the very last page and left me wanting more.

Nikki: When I first started the book I was like, “Aw this is cute!”. Then about a quarter way through the book, something shifted. I started to get really annoyed with Lara Jean. I had to put the book down and keep coming back to it. By the end I was so invested into this family and the boys in their lives, I was all shouty caps at the ending.

5. Do the characters seem real and believable? Can you relate to their predicaments? To what extent do they remind you of yourself or someone you know?

Nikki: I think to an extent yes. Part of me can relate to each of the Song sisters. I understood their feelings of living with a working single parent. And even though Lara Jean annoyed the hell out of me at times, I think I saw part of myself in her. The need to hold on to the past, loving the idea of a person and a little scared to fully commit to them outside my view of them in my head. All of that.

Keira: I did think the characters were believable, however, I really couldn't relate to them. Maybe because I’m older, or maybe because we’re just different. The only similarity between me and the Song sisters is that I have a sister myself. I've met plenty of Margot's in my life. Overbearing, perfectionist, who think she knows it all. Haven’t we all?

6. What did you think of the ending?

Nikki: FRUSTRATING! Just when I was getting really into it. Right when things were being revealed, she ends it on a cliffhanger. I mean, I get it. If I didn't know that this was a duology I would have been even more upset. But I can see the justice in it. the whole book is about letters she writes when she is no longer in love with the boy. Ending it with her writing a letter to a boy she is developing real feelings for feels like progress.

Keira: Having had a few weeks to think about this, I still really love this story, however, I find the ending to be weak. One thing is for certain, the author is consistent, as is Lara Jean. She was indecisive right up until the very end. It will definitely be interesting to see what happens between Lara Jean and Peter next.

Nikki: PeterJean 4Eva!

7. What moral/ethical choices did the characters make? What did you think of those choices? How would you have chosen?

Nikki: The whole “covet your sisters ex-boyfriend” and “fake-relationship to make people jealous” was the biggest things I think in the book. Honestly, the whole book dealt with moral and ethical choices. From the point when Lara Jean messed up Margot's car and didn't tell her, you knew Lara Jean had a skewed view on things. I think that when it comes to the whole Lara Jean/Josh/Margot thing, there is a thing called girl code, and it should have been followed. Lara Jean should have been honest from before Josh and Margot got together. And Josh should have just moved on instead of moving toward Lara Jean! I don’t think I would have made the same choices Lara Jean did, however, I maybe would have still fake dated Peter because Peter is kinda dreamy.

Keira: I have to agree with Nikki. The biggest thing for me was Lara Jean’s crush on her sisters boyfriend. You let it go once, girlfriend, you can do it again. Even if Margot and Josh were broken up, Lara Jean was certain that they would get back together. It all felt a little skeevy.

8. What surprised you the most about the book?

Nikki: I think the fact that is was less about the boys that she loved before and more about her relationship with the people in her life surprised me. I think I was also surprised about how young acting Lara Jean was. It really threw me for a loop.

Keira: JOSH KISSED LARA JEAN. Like, what? Am I reading some other story? Maybe a fanfic, because the Josh we met in the first half of the book didn't seem like he would do that to Margot. I mean, sure, I probably saw it coming, but come on!

Nikki: Indecisive bunch of people!

Despite what was said, we gave this book 4 stars! We liked it very much.

Until Next Time!

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