I wasn’t planning to write this post, but I loved the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movie so much that I immediately felt the need to reread the book. And despite being a huge fan of the book, it turns out that I somehow like the movie more! And I can’t stop thinking about it, hence the need to write this post.
I generally find it a good practice to have a bit of space between reading a book and watching the film adaptation so that I can enjoy the film for itself and not get too caught up in the differences between the book and movie, so I made the deliberate decision not to reread To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before while waiting for the film to be released on Netflix.
When the movie finally came out, I watched it as soon as I could. And I absolutely loved it! They did such an amazing job capturing the feel of the book and making it a fun romcom, and I was in love with the entire thing. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it now! It’s cute and funny and fun, and just an all around adorable movie that I highly recommend.
It was so cute, in fact, that I wasn’t ready to let the feeling go when the movie was over. But since I barely even watch movies, let alone rewatch them, I figured I’d go back to the original and reread the book instead of rewatch the movie.
So I started reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a book I read and absolutely loved only a year and a half ago. And I didn’t like it all that much anymore. Honestly, I think Peter was kind of an immature jerk and that Lara Jean deserved better than him. Which is such a 180 from where I was when I first read this book!
Heads up: Spoilers for the book and film ahead
I still read through it fairly quickly and made the decision to move into the second one, PS I Still Love You, since the film actually borrowed a fair amount from the second book in order to finish the narrative arc of the film (I approve of their choice—I think the original ending would have felt too incomplete for the type of movie this was, and it tied it up nicely while still leaving it open to a sequel film). And honestly? This time I was team John Ambrose McLaren! He just seemed like a really nice, self-assured guy who was really invested in Lara Jean’s well being and making her happy, unlike Peter, who came off as juvenile and self-centered in comparison.
I can’t tell you how hard it is for me to believe I just wrote that sentence when I was such a fan of Peter Kavinsky last year, but it’s true. He had his moments, but overall I didn’t like him all that much and thought Lara Jean would be way better off with John Ambrose McLaren. So I’m disappointed that she rejected him and went back to Peter at the end of the second book.
In the movie, though, Peter is a way nicer guy who doesn’t seem at all self-centered and irritating. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty cute! But I was totally rooting for him and Lara Jean throughout the entire movie and was really happy to see them together at the end.
I also really liked how Lara Jean was more assertive in the movie than in the film. And I loved that they showed her reading romances out in the open instead of hiding them away from everyone! That would have been really important for me to see as a teenager, and I sill appreciate it now. Plus how cute was Jenny Han’s cameo?!
While it was fun that they brought John Ambrose McLaren in for a mid-credit scene, I actually hope they don’t make the rest of the books into movies. I think To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before works perfectly as an adorable, standalone romcom, and I don’t want to see a love triangle pull the characters apart or have Peter potentially turned into a jerk (seriously, he was waiting for Gen in the hot tub?! My opinion of him sank so low after reading that in the book).
Really, my only complaint about the film is the fact that, while the actresses who played Lara Jean and Margot are Asian (and Jenny Han has a great editorial about why that’s so important to see in the film), they aren’t of Korean descent. I’m not sure about the actress who played Kitty, but I know the other two actresses are of Vietnamese and Chinese descent respectively (side note: Janel Parrish was waaaaay too old to play Margot).
I’m not saying this to undermine their performances or how important it is to see Asian representation on screen, because they both did a great job (Lana Condor crushed it as Lara Jean) and I’m so, so glad this film wasn’t whitewashed, but being part Korean is so central to the story of the book that I think the actors should have been Korean, too. It makes me concerned that the film portrays Asian cultures as interchangeable when they’re not. But I think the overall positive message of this film outweighs that, and like I said, the actresses did a great job!
While the books will always be special to me for how much I loved them during my first read, I’m firmly in the camp of preferring the movie right now. I wish I could put my finger on what changed my opinion so drastically! I think maybe it’s just that I’ve been reading more adult romance lately, so going back to teenage drama just wasn’t that appealing? But it’s not like my reading romance is a new thing, so I’m not sure that’s it.
It’s a weird position to be in, so please tell me I’m not alone! Let me know in the comments how the movie stacked up to the books for you. I’ve since rewatched the movie anyways, so you know I’m a huge fan!