Not your average romance novel

Jenny Han reveals a new way to write about love


Shelby Foster

“’To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’,” by Jenny Han, encompasses all the best characteristics of romance novels while having its own unique take on the classic genre. The second book in this series, “P.S. I Still Love You,” was published on May 26, 2016.

Dana Gould, Staff Writer

When people think of romance novels, it usually includes cheesy character interactions and a cringe-worthy plot. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is anything but average as it avoids the stereotypical characteristics of many romance stories. While many romance novels leave the reader with much to be desired, this book leaves the reader wanting more.  

Protagonist Lara Jean seems like an average high school junior except that she writes letters to each of the boys she’s ever loved. Under Lara Jean’s bed sits a box containing letters that she has written to her past crushes. She pours her heart and soul into each letter, knowing the boy, for whom it was written, will never receive it. Lara Jean then places the letter in an envelope, addresses it, and puts it in her box, completely forgetting her feelings toward that person.

This book may not take the reader to a far-away fairy tale world but it does shed light on reality and reacting to real-life situations.”

— Staff Writer Dana Gould

One day, Lara Jean realizes all of the letters have been mysteriously sent to all the boys she’s loved before. One by one each boy confronts her about the letter he received and Lara Jean must go through the initial panic of the situation each time. She must give each boy an explanation and convince herself and the boy that her feelings for him have disappeared.

This process becomes considerably more difficult when Lara Jean realizes she still has feelings for one of the boys, feelings she thought were buried long ago. Lara Jean struggles throughout this novel, trying figure out how she actually feels while dealing with issues other than her love life.

Lara Jean must also manage her family as her older sister, Margot, is moving to Scotland for college. All of Margot’s responsibilities fall into Lara Jean’s hands as well as continuing her  own obligations. Lara Jean, her younger sister, Kitty, and their single father must learn to function without organized Margot there to guide them.

This novel takes the reader on a thrilling journey through Lara Jean’s everyday life and struggles. While many novels tell of out-of-this-world adventures this story focuses on how people would actually react to real-life problems and situations. This book may not take the reader to a far-away fairy tale world but it does shed light on reality and reacting to real-life situations.

At a first glance the storyline may seem cheesy, but once someone starts reading it, the story quickly pulls in readers, making them want more.

Throughout the story the plot comes close to becoming cheesy, but the lively writing style makes up for it. The author allows the reader a glimpse of what may happen without actually stating it, which keeps the reader encompassed in the story and wondering what will happen next.

This book can be relatable to many teenagers struggling with schoolwork, family, or a complicated love life. 

This exciting book is worthwhile and will leave the reader eagerly awaiting the next novel of the series. People who do not ordinarily enjoy romance novels should give this one a try as it is not anywhere close to average.

People who enjoyed this book should join the discussion at the Starr’s Mill High School book club, Ex Libris, meeting from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. on Oct. 5 in the Media Center.