'To all the boys I've loved before'

Jenny Han shows that love isn't all rainbows and butterflies.

It’s a new year and with Valentine’s Day looming near, it’s difficult not to think about finding someone to be with. Within this search to rid of the old, oftentimes a hope for a thrilling love dances through our mind. To counteract this desire and ease the butterflies, we find comfort in reading someone else’s love story.

New York Times best selling Author, Jenny Han, creates the romantic comedy “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” a love story that reveals the amusing truth about first relationships. This is the first book of its trilogy.

This fast-paced and hilarious novel is about naive and bubbly Lara Jean who writes love letters that she keeps under her bed just for her eyes to see. These letters are addressed to boys she has loved in her past, with her genuine feelings expressed in each one. Then one day, all of them are mysteriously sent out.

Lara Jean has to deal with every boy she sent a letter to including: a boy from summer camp, two childhood friends, a well-dressed kid at school and her most recent love, her older sister’s boyfriend. She’s not ready for what’s to come.

Her love story is an unexpected but colorful one. Readers are engaged in her ever-changing life, remembering what it was like to be in high school, not knowing what the future holds and being madly in love. It’s not all romance, though. Han illustrates love for family, friends and self-love throughout her story as well. This creates a unique way of looking at the different types of love that exist in the world.

One aspect of the novel that makes it especially one-of-a-kind is Lara Jean’s family life. She grew up as a middle child with no mother, yet has a unique bond with her sisters that shapes her character. The death of Lara Jean’s mother brings the family closer together than ever before.

The novel also touches upon major developments in an individual’s life while still in high school. Han reveals the struggles of accepting change, whether that be an older sibling going to college, the ending of a friendship or the start of a new relationship. In a way, the author is giving advice to her readers through the life of Lara Jean. Han encourages taking risks when it comes to relationships. This theme of risk-taking is especially prevalent in Lara Jean, a girl who has never been in a serious relationship. She realizes that she must step out of her comfort zone and embrace something more than a friendship.

Han’s work is sure to make readers smile as she reflects on what it feels like to be in a relationship for the first time. Her writing is honest, as she makes sure there is awkwardness and anxiety involved regarding Lara Jean’s emotions. First relationships foster insecurities and are not as perfect as many expect them to be. Even long-lasting relationships that may seem like they can last forever, may not be eternal.

If looking for a work that realistically develops and defines relationships, this series is the one. Heroine Lara Jean has feelings relatable to anyone in love.

Who knows? Maybe 2018 is the lucky year for romance.

Contact Kailey Cheng at chengks@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.