To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Book 1

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Sassy sisters steal the show in well-told romantic read.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 20 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

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?

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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. 

Violence
Sex

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.

Language

Some uses of strong language, including  "bitch," "crap," "oh my God," "f--k," "hell," "ass," "slut" and "s--t."  

Consumerism

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycommonsense13 March 3, 2015

Entertaining, Good Read

The book tells two good stories in one; one about a unique family and one about romance, both of which are well-told in a way that you wouldn't be able to... Continue reading
Adult Written byKatD28 September 5, 2018
Teen, 15 years old Written by5sos_LHR1996 October 18, 2014
This book was great,shows that side that I'm sure is in a lot of girls. There's a few alcohol references but nothing extreme.There's kissing betw... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySydney Poppy February 14, 2016

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

I really, really, enjoyed this book! It was probably one of my favorites I've read in the past few years. And now one of my all time favs! I would recommen... Continue reading

What's the story?

Poor Lara Jean. The half-Korean narrator of TO ALL THE BOYS I LOVED BEFORE has a romantic side, and has written love letters to five different boys. ("They aren't love letters in the strictest sense of the word. My letters are for when I don't want to be in love anymore.") She never meant the love letters she wrote to boys to actually leave her possession, but suddenly some of the recipients are letting her know they got a letter in the mail, including Josh, the recent-ex boyfriend of her older sister Margot. Mortified, Lara Jean goes to a serious extreme to get things back to normal, including starting a fake relationship with Peter -- who got a letter of his own. Suddenly, she's part of a crazy love triangle (or actually two).

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."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Lara Jean. She and her sisters are half-Korean, while mixed-race characters are pretty rare in children's books, which lack diversity overall. Have you read other books that feature a family with a mixed-race background? Why do you think diversity is so lacking in kids' and YA books?

  • Why do you think stories with love triangles are so popular? What other books you've read or movies you've seen use this device? How did you hope the one in To All the Boys I Ever Loved would work out?

  • What do you think Lara Jean will write in her final letter to Peter? What will happen next between them?

Book details

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