Friday, October 31, 2014

To All the Boys I've Loved, by Jenny Han

Lara Jean is the middle girl of three.  After their mother died, her older sister Margot kept things together and there was a comfortable routine.  But now, Margot's graduated and gone to study in Scotland.  So, it's Lara Jean, her little sister, and her father.

Things start off on an inauspicious note when five private letters that Lara Jean wrote to her secret crushes (and never intended to send) somehow get mailed out.  She must do some quick damage control (particularly because one of the recipients is Margot's ex-boyfriend and Margot doesn't know that Lara Jean liked him as well!).  Her peculiar Shakespearean solution is to conspire with another one of the boys to fake a relationship to throw off her sister's ex-.  This, as one can imagine, complicates things yet further and has numerous unintended consequences.

Jenny Han scores again with a beautiful book that combines authentic stories and behavior with finely nuanced and detailed characters.  The girls and their father felt so real it was impossible not to be sucked into their story.  Han gets teen angst and the complexities of adolescent love.  However, her talents go far beyond teen romance as she also shows a fine appreciation for family dynamics and has a real ear for how people actually talk and relate to each other.  A truly wonderful book about love, trust, loyalty, and being brave when your heart is on the line.

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