Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 279
The themes of Jenny Han's 2014 novel To All the Boys I've Loved Before include deception, love, and acting.
Lara Jean Covey is the middle child of three girls, whose mother has died at the novel's outset and whose father is a doctor. Lara Jean is introverted and is reluctant at the prospect of becoming the oldest girl in the household when her older sister, Margot, goes to college in Scotland.
Lara Jean keeps a box of letters to previous crushes in her room. She realizes that somehow, her letters have been delivered to their long-ago pretended recipients. In order to disguise her true (and enduring) feelings for Josh (her older sister's ex-boyfriend), Lara Jean establishes a "fake" relationship with another of her previous crushes, Peter. This serves Peter's purpose of retaliating against his ex-girlfriend, Genevieve.
Eventually, Lara Jean and Peter have a falling out that results in Josh coming to her aid, which in turn inspires jealousy in her sister, Margot (recently returned from college). The falling out involves Margot and Lara Jean reconciling, as well as a confession from the youngest sister, Kitty, that she sent the letters in order to procure a boyfriend for her previously lonely sister.
Lara Jean realizes that she does have feelings for Peter, which she confesses at the novel's close. Peter and Lara Jean fall in love despite the pretext that their relationship was merely a public ruse. Thus, the novel demonstrates that love can be a learned or discovered emotion.
Kitty's deception was inspired out of love for her sister. The novel's ending ultimately suggests that sometimes others know what is best for an individual, even if the individual does not.
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