Come on, right? I just had to pit the book and the movie together, especially after the huge amount of hype that came out when it popped up on Netflix in August.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Jenny Han fan. I was fortunate enough to have met her in person, but few actually know that this book is the direct cause for this whole blog. I absolutely ADORED this book so of course I watched the movie on the very first day that it came out.
But first things first, a little dive into the synopsis (for those of you who have absolutely no idea what this book is about).
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
All right, who doesn’t love a cute little synopsis like that? I mean, I even got some of my male friends to watch it with me so that really says something.
Below, I’m going to list out some of the things I loved and didn’t love about both the book and the movie. Pitting them together, which one would win out?
Pros for the book:
- the lush culture of the Song family is very thoroughly explored, pretty much an integral part of the book as much as the central romance
- steady pacing to get to know all the different characters, particularly the other Song sisters Margot and Kitty
- understanding more of the backstory behind Peter, one potential love interest, and his ex that causes problems with Lara Jean
Cons for the book:
- um, I mean, I kind of rated it a 5 star novel so I’m not sure I have too many things to say badly about it
Pros for the movie:
- the casting was really well-done, especially with Lana Condor playing the lead role as Lara Jean, and followed the book quite closely
- excellent acting really helped embody the heart of certain characters (e.g. Anna Cathart as Kitty)
Cons for the movie:
- fast pacing, particularly near the middle, with months literally flying by in seconds and it feels like we don’t really get to spend much time with Lara Jean and the boys she’s dealing with
- not a huge focus on the Korean culture and traditions that the Song family holds onto even though their mother died – seemed like it could’ve been any other generic American family except that they look Asian
As the credits were rolling and I was sitting there wondering what just happened, I must admit that I didn’t love the movie as much as I had hoped. My friends (who never read the book before) liked it well enough but there was something in me that just wasn’t satisfied. A cameo of Jenny Han was wonderful, and the chemistry between the leads Lana Condor (Lara Jean) and Noah Centineo (Peter Kavinsky) was tangible, yet my heart wished it was longer and developed a couple things more that the book did really well.
I may be the odd person who can’t say they LOVED the movie, but to me, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before as the book wins. Granted, not much could really displace the love I have for this novel in its own very special place in my heart.
If you want to know just how I felt for this book, check out my review for it as well!
So what do you think? If you watched the movie and read the book, which one did you think was better? Or were they tied as they both did amazing in different ways for the same story?