A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Could lead to some philosophical discussions about love and romance: What did Lara Jean learn about love? Is it worth the risk? Also, readers might want to talk about this book featuring a half-Korean narrator. How many other titles can you think of that feature a family with a mixed race background? Why do you think diversity is so lacking in kids' and YA books?
Sweet message about love being worth the risk. Also, Lara Jean learns that she and her sisters may fight but "we are sisters, and there's nothing she or I can ever say or do to change that."
Positive Role Models
Lara Jean is a fun character who often makes mistakes. Ultimately, though, she learns to take more risk in life, even if it means opening herself up to more pain.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lara Jean discovers that her older sister had sex. She admits to thinking about what it would be like to have sex herself. She kisses a boy in the school hallway, and later has a pretty steamy make-out scene with him in a hot tub. Later, she hears a rumor that they had sex in the hot tub. Her father hears the same rumor and wants to make a doctor's appointment for her to get birth control. She also kisses her sister's boyfriend after they break up. Her best friend did a drunken strip tease at a party and hooked up with a lot of older boys; someone started a rumor that she had sex with a boy in a locker room.
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Some uses of strong language, including "bitch," "crap," "oh my God," "f--k," "hell," "ass," "slut" and "s--t."
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Products & Purchases
Some products mentioned, mostly junk food like Cap'n Crunch, Coke, Girl Scout cookies, M&Ms, McDonald's, Oreos, Nutella, and Pirate Booty, Also, a mention of alcoholic drink Four Loko.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Peter remembers a girl who got drunk freshman year at a party and did a striptease. He and Lara Jean go to a party where there's drinking. Lara Jean's friend tells her she brought shampoo bottles filled with tequila on a ski trip.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that To All the Boys I Loved Before is a romantic book that features some sexual material, including kissing and one steamy hot tub make-out scene. Lara Jean discovers that her older sister had sex, and admits to thinking about what it would be like to have sex herself. There's also some swearing, junk food mentions, and party talk (Peter remembers a girl who got drunk freshman year at a party and did a striptease; he and Lara Jean go to a party where there is drinking; later, Lara Jean's friend tell her she brought shampoo bottles filled with tequila on a ski trip). There's a sweet message about the importance of sisterhood, and Lara Jean learns to take more risk in life, even if it means opening herself up to more pain. This book may lead to philosophical discussions about love, and teens may also want to discuss the significance of having a half-Korean narrator at a time when readers are calling for more characters of color in books for kids and teens. It also inspired a movie on Netflix.
Is It Any Good?
The plot is a bit contrived: If you were writing letters that you never meant to send, why would you address them? But once teens get over that bit, this is a book they will love. Romance may be driving the plot -- and it's certainly fun trying to figure out who Lara Jean will ultimately end up with -- but it's really the relationship of these sisters that make this book so amazing. There's perfect Margot, romantic Lara Jean, and cute-but-bratty Kitty, who all work hard to keep their family together after their mom's death: baking special Christmas cookies, lying to their white dad about the quality of his Korean food, even inventing a crazy dance that ends in the splits.
The details make the family seem really real. That's why the book's most spine-tingling scene is not about who's kissing whom but rather the moment when the tension finally breaks between Margot and Lara Jean, making the narrator realize: "We are sisters, and there's nothing she or I can every say or do to change that."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.