“To all the boys I’ve loved before”, nostalgia for the worst years of my youth [book review]

Remember how awkward having a crush in high school was? I know I had my fair share of secret crushes, and then a few that found out–but they all ended with me feeling mortified, and alone. To all the boys I’ve loved before brings back every cringe-worthy moment of high school crushes, but it’s embedded with cozy family moments that will make you want to hug your sisters and bake a lot of sweets and be a naive 16 year-old again. It’s a classic growing up story, but the protagonist is not your average Young Adult starlet.

It’s week three of my 52 books in 52 weeks challenge. This week I chose one that is both trending and special to me, because it marks the first time I read about a half Korean half White main character, and felt that she was truly a character my future Korean-White children could relate to. That aside, here are reasons you may want to read this book, and some reasons you may not.

to all the boys me reading

Author Jenny Han perfectly captured what it’s like being a teen who prefers to chill at home than be seen at all the big parties.

Lara Jean Covey Song is the middle child of three sisters growing up with their white/American dad. Their Korean mom (we aren’t sure if she’s born in Korea or not) passed away from a cause not mentioned in the first book, and the sisters are bound by their desire to look after each other in their mom’s place.

But there’s a problem. Lara Jean is in love with her older sister’s boyfriend, Josh, and her older sister breaks up with him before leaving for college… in Scotland. Adding to the drama, Lara Jean’s stash of secret love letters that she wrote to her previous crushes somehow gets mailed to them, including Josh.

It’s a mess, but Lara Jean handles it with grace, courage and wit, unlike the somehow desirable but utterly useless female main characters of notable YA novels such as Twilight.

The best parts of the book aren’t the romantic moments, the high school drama or the sisterly love, though those are all some of my favorites. The best parts are the frequent mentions of food, including Korean food, Christmas cookies, and “Mocha sugar donuts”. Mmm, I wish I could eat like I was a teen again.

Whether you loved or hated high school, this YA series will make you nostalgic for those days. I dare you to read it and try not to want to be 16 again. Go ahead~