Book vs. Movie: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Though Jenny Han’s charming trilogy featuring endearing protagonist Lara Jean Song Covey was released quite some time ago, the first novel, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, has only recently been released as a movie on Netflix. The story, which follows Lara Jean(Lana Condor)’s mishaps in writing love letters to her crushes(that eventually get sent, much to her dismay), is a refreshing film in the rom-com genre.

The film adaptation, while slightly straying from the source material as movies tend to do, still managed to capture the whimsies and nuances of first love from the perspective of a relatable teenager. It’s extremely gratifying to see that the directors kept most of aspects of the book intact—author Jenny Han has been vocal about her difficulty finding a movie studio that would not whitewash her main character, who is half-Korean. Lana Condor, who plays Lara Jean, continues to speak out about the importance of Asian representation in media and pop culture.

The film, while keeping surprising fidelity to the source material, also veers off direction in its decision to cut out some of the scenes in the novel. While it would have been amazing to see those scenes brought to life, some of the things added in made up for it: the yogurt drinks, Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky(The Foster‘s Noah Centineo, who also appears in upcoming Netflix teen drama Sierra Burgess is a Loser)’s partygoing chemistry, and heart-to-hearts with Mr. Covey(including a laughable moment with Chris(Madeleine Arthur) in which she questions his profession as a gynecologist).

Ultimately, this is what can be said about most movie-book showdowns: the book was better, and To All the Boys is no exception. But, like Harry Potter, the movie version is just as excitable, if not more cinematic, and it’s truly incredible to see Asian-American characters who break the mold of dragon ladies and china dolls on-screen. Cue the applause for director Susan Johnson, and of course Jenny Han.

However, many people who’ve watched the movie have not read the book, and that’s okay. The movie as a standalone work is still worth your time, and you’ll find little bits of yourself in its characters. It’s utterly shining, heart-swelling, conscientious. After watching it, it’s clear that I for one won’t stop obsessing over it any time soon, and neither will its other numerous viewers. And, though the number of rom-coms I’ve watched in my lifetime is still in the low single-digits(I’m thinking maybe three), To All the Boys wins my heart as number one—an instant classic. Netflix did a good job with this one after the whole Kissing Booth debacle.

Anyway, I’ll be waiting for the sequel. While we’re at it, you should give it a try—as well as those yogurt drinks. Those are crazy good.

Esther H.

Burn for Burn Trilogy by Jenny Han

burnforburn_jennyhanBurn for Burn, Fire with Fire, and Ashes to Ashes, is a trilogy by Jenny Han. This series is about a fascinating turn of events that leave the readers feeling haunted inside.

In Burn for Burn there are three main characters: Kat, Lillia, and Mary. Kat and Lillia had a history of friendship with Rennie until one fine day, Rennie backstabbed (not literally!) Kat, causing their friendship to fall apart. Lillia is the “it” girl, best friends with Rennie, on the cheerleading team, and right in the middle of the popular group at their high school. Mary is traumatized from an event that occurred years ago in her childhood, for the very reason she has come back to Jar Island is for revenge. All three of the girls meet each other at the right place at the right time, and cook up a pot full for homecoming night, an event that shakes all and changes the lives of few.

In Fire with Fire, the girls serve time for their actions, causing them to regret the decisions they made months ago. Homecoming night hurt a lot of people, but it also critically damaged one of them–coincidentally it was Reeve, who tragically haunted Mary years ago. The girls just wanted to show the rest of the school Reeve’s bad side, but things happened that night that weren’t planned. They’ve gotten away with it for now… but Mary needs to control her anger and it seems like she just can’t.

In the last novel of this trilogy, Ashes to Ashes, Lillia, Kat, and Mary lit a fire without even thinking. Their goal was to get even, but now the fire is spreading. In this last book, a huge plot twist comes our way, and I am talking amazingly enormous. Out of all of the books I have read throughout my life, the plot twist that the readers come to find out in the last book of this trilogy is the best most surprising twist I have ever read.

I would definitely recommend this series to any girl because it starts out as a normal high school novel, but really turns into something you never expected, and its just really interesting to see how the characters progress throughout the couple of years. Absolutely on the top of my list for my best reads.

-Nirmeet B.

Jenny Han’s trilogy and her other works are available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library, Overdrive, and Axis360