July YA Book Club – To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Discussion
We have a treat for you today! Since our beloved Claire T and I (Noa) both read Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we thought we would tag-team and post our thoughts together. One of our favorite parts of working in publishing is talking about books with our friends!
I totally sped through this book! I have to say that my favorite part was definitely the exploration of the family relationships. Lara Jean’s journey to understanding Margot in a more complex and adult way was very satisfying, and to me it felt completely real. I also liked Lara Jean’s interactions with Kitty, her younger sister. Kitty felt spot-on for a nine-year-old (albeit a mature one), and lightened some of the heavier moments in this book with her little-kid charm. She almost stole the show for me!
Spoken like a true little sister, Noa! Like Noa, I also a really liked the dynamic between the sisters—it felt really authentic. I think that Jenny Han really tapped into that “I’ll always love you, but right now I kinda hate you” feeling that we sisters know is so true. I will say, I wish that the confrontation between Lara Jean and Margot had been a little more drawn-out; it felt like that resolution came quickly. But overall, I love a strong sister story. I also liked that Lara Jean had a very distinct personality. There are lots of outfits described and while they aren’t really my style, it did help build an idea of who she is. Noa, ever sported any floral shorts or suspenders?
Wellllllllllllllllllllllllll…ok, no floral shorts. (Though there is an amazing photo of me on my tenth birthday in a floral VEST. Plus a huge afro. Plus enormous glasses. Plus light-wash jeans. Enough said.) But I definitely identify with Lara Jean about rooting through piles of vintage stuff and creating her own style. I am a die-hard thrift store shopper!
But Claire, honestly. Let’s get to what’s really important here. THE BOYS.
I was really glad that Lara Jean didn’t end up with Josh. (I mean, there’s another book coming, so who knows what’s going to happen, but taking this book as it stands, that’s not in the cards right now.) I liked Josh, and I understood Lara Jean’s crush on him, but even though she says she liked him first, I just couldn’t see them ending up together when he’d dated her sister for so long. Although I also kind of wondered…how does she know that Margot didn’t also like him even before they started dating each another? She can’t know that for sure. I feel like Lara Jean’s “I liked him first” claim can’t really be substantiated.
But Peter…well, I didn’t totally fall for him, but I definitely came around to him (and am more than willing to give him a chance to grow on me in the upcoming book). He is kind of douchey, which is what everyone accuses him of, but he’s kind of a good guy at the same time. And Lara Jean brings out the non-douchey side of him in the same way that he brings out the more outgoing side of her.
Ah, yes. I felt like Josh was instantly crush-worthy— but also cringe-worthy, because really, I cannot imagine harboring feelings for someone my sister made out with. So I was SO relieved when Lara Jean realized she was so over him. Peter, I felt like, was a very slow burn for me. Slooooowly you started to see that he was actually a really good guy. But maybe my biggest pet peeve was that when Lara Jean knew he had been over at Genevieve’s house she didn’t call him out on it, even though he was giving her crap for hanging out with Josh. And I would have liked a scene where he really shot Gen down in front of Lara. (Obviously, I also wanted a make-up scene where they get to kiss again.) One other thing I wanted? More boys, and possibly more from/about/with John Ambrose McClaren. Maybe this wish will be fulfilled in the next book.
You know…I’ve just thought of something. It feels completely not right to me that Lara Jean would go after her sister’s ex-boyfriend (which she doesn’t, really, but the implication is that she kind of wants to), but in Han’s previous series, which starts with The Summer I Turned Pretty, Belly dates two brothers at different points in the series, and it didn’t really bother me with the brothers. Is it because I’m one of two sisters? Is it because there’s some sort of girl code which is not applicable when it comes to boys? Is it because I, too, was totally crushing on both those boys in the previous series, so it was more like wish fulfillment rather than a situation I felt could actually happen in my life?
Seriously swoon when it comes to Conrad and Jeremiah, brotherhood-schmotherhood. I do think there is something to being a girl and reading about a situation that you can actually relate to versus a dream scenario a la The Summer I Turned Pretty. Certainly I like reality in my YA romance, but I do not want to be tasked with a philosophical dilemma, necessarily. That seems to cross the line from fun to thought-provoking. But this is getting us distracted from the book at hand, so let’s turn it back to you Swoon Readers—what did you think about this latest offering from Jenny Han? Thumbs up? We want to hear from you below!
And don’t forget to come back on August 7th for the Swoon Reads Book Club announcement. HUGE thanks to Claire for coming down to my office to chat about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, YA books in general, and donuts. (That was a side conversation which didn’t make it into this blog post. But it happened and now we’re hungry.) See you all in a few weeks!