I was in the mood for a fluffy teenage romance, something light that I didn’t have to think about.
Through booktube and other online reviews I saw people raving about To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. Words like “cute” and “sugary” were thrown about like confetti at Mardi Gras, which definitely piqued my interest.
Also the synopsis sounded fun: A girl writes letters to the boys she’s in love with as a way of getting over them (something I have been guilty of doing!). But one day these secret love notes get sent out… Chaos ensues! Sounds funny and kinda cute right? Right. So why didn’t I like it?
Here are my two main reasons:
1. You don’t have to read too far to realise that this is a story about a girl crushing on her sister’s boyfriend. THIS IS NOT WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR! Gross and blegh and ouchies! How can I enjoy a story if right from the start I hate the protagonist??? She’s either disgustingly naïve or just a horrible person… I don’t know which is worse. And don’t even get my started on the guy!
2. This book is fixated on slut-shaming. Any time a girl has sex she’s labeled a slut. We even have the “slutty best friend” trope who casually takes on the label without a fight. The only time anyone takes offense to this term is when it’s used for someone who hasn’t had sex. Because apparently it’s fine to shame girls so long as it’s “true”.
Yes, there is a brief moment when one of the characters (the slutty best friend, who’s only purpose in the book seems to be being a big ol’ slut — there’s certainly no real friendship there) anyway, she makes a passing comment about sexist double standards. But it’s so minor, blink and you’ll miss it.
Now, this book wasn’t all bad. We had some interesting critiques on growing up Asian in a predominantly white culture (without being hit over the head with it). Also, the sassy younger sister was fun. Unfortunately, these high points couldn’t save the story as a whole, nor could they salvage the horribly convenient ending.
I wanted to like this book, I really did. It promised to be everything I was looking for at the end-of-exam period. But alas, we just weren’t meant to be.
2 out of 5 stars