Analysis

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 304

To All The Boys I've Loved Before is a 2014 young adult novel by Jenny Han, which was made into a successful film released in 2018.

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The protagonist of the novel is a sixteen-year-old girl, Lara Jean (the middle child of three girls), who is shy but funny and thoughtful. She has written five letters to boys with whom she has had various levels of (more or less innocent, and sometimes minimal) interactions since junior high. In order to disguise her true (current) feelings for Josh (the recipient of one of the letters, and her absent, college-aged sister's ex-boyfriend), she undertakes a "fake" relationship with Peter, a Casanova type who is the recipient of another one of the letters. This plan serves Peter, too, as he is able to exact revenge on his ex-girlfriend, Genevieve, by making her jealous.

At first, this plan seems to work. Soon, however, Josh tells Lara Jean that he is jealous of Peter, and Lara Jean realizes that she has indeed gotten over Josh. Peter, too, tells Lara Jean that he really loves her, and Lara Jean confesses her true feelings to him in a letter by the novel's end. Kitty, Lara Jean's younger sister, confesses that she sent the original letters to the young men, as she wanted to help Lara Jean get a boyfriend.

The novel, like the film, teaches readers about romance. Specifically, it demonstrates how those closest to us sometimes know us better than we know ourselves. For this reason, Kitty's ploy to send her sister's letters to various young men proves a fruitful enterprise. Next, the novel reaffirms that love requires a certain vulnerability. For example, Lara Jean is not uninterested in love, but incapable of it until she is willing to make herself vulnerable (or rather, is forced into a vulnerable position by her sister).

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