Jenny Han | To All The Boys / Summer
Jenny Han seems to work only in series form. Her first trilogy hit in 2009 with “The Summer I Turned Pretty”, becoming the coming of age book for many readers of that time. There isn’t a single millennial who has not read it in their early or late teens. It came a little later to us, when it was picked by TREI publishing in 2019. Her second series was a co-authorship with Siobhan Vivian, opening with “Burn for Burn” in 2012. But it was her third series that blew up and we all know it: “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” Released in spring 2014 and picked up by TREI publishing in 2015.
It is the story of Lara Jean, a girl who has never spoken her crushes, choosing instead to write them a letter and hide it in a box. Therapeutic, if you ask me. One day all her secret letters are mailed and her past and present crushes are exposed. Everything seems to fall apart, because one of the recipients is the boyfriend of Lara Jean’s older sister. The only way to fix it is to pretend to date Peter, one of the other letter recipients and the popular boy in school. But when did fake dating ever work out without the two people involved not falling for each other?
I think there are two factors that worked into “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” success. For starters we finally had a Korean main lead, which makes one wonder why it took so long. Second, Netflix caught a whiff of it in 2018. It has the perfect recipe for a coming of age story to appeal to today’s teens.
Throughout the series we follow Lara Jean, as she makes sense of not only her love life, but life in general. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is her introduction to romance and a relationship, even if it starts out fake. “P.S I still love you” is her struggle to understand how actual real relationships work, with some love triangle thrown in there. We will allow that, because Lara Jean does not have to save the world in a post-apocalyptic adventure. In the end “Always and Forever, Lara Jean” is with our heroine trying to keep a relationship when actual life happens, when distance might become a problem, when high school does not offer that safe zone anymore.
From start to finish, Lara Jean’s story is well rounded and straightforward. Teen romance is like this, life around it is like these and yes, it is packed in pretty pastel and (sometimes) suspended disbelief, but this is how it is. Family is just as important in romance and sometimes the two may clash. “To all the boys” series explores all these elements, while making the Covey family an integral part of the story. I can only respect Jenny Han for that. This is something that the author does very well. She also did it with the “Summer” series, going as far as following the characters through their college period.
Now, for what she will do next is only a stab in the dark. What we do know for sure is that Netflix still has to release the last part: Always and Forever, Lara Jean. We are all ready for it.
*Cronică realizată de Măriuca Alexandra Munteanu.