Even though I read a borderline-insane number of YA novels in any given year, there are still some books and authors that I discover waaaay after the majority of YA readers. Case in point: Why We Broke Up. Second case in point: Jenny Han.
I discovered Jenny Han NOT through her much-lauded Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy, but due to the Burn for Burn series that she’s co-writing with the also-fabulous Siobhan Vivian*. Now that I’ve read and hugely enjoyed her upcoming To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, I’ve vowed to go back to see what I’ve been missing.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before features the premise of a standard romantic comedy—over the course of years, a girl writes letters to her crushes once they’ve become FORMER crushes; said letters accidentally get mailed en masse—and has scenes straight out of a farce, but it features a storyline and characters that are more surprising, more interesting and more well-rounded than the majority of entrants in either genre. It’s about family, about sisters, about responsibility and independence and bravery, and about growing out of friendships and crushes and about growing back into them.
It made me laugh out loud more than once—the scene in which Golden Boy Peter Kavinsky confronts Lara Jean about the letter she wrote accusing him of being “an egotistical guy who goes around giving girls STDs” so much so that I got the hiccups—but there were moments that got me all choked up, too. While the end was a bit of a letdown—I sooo wanted another scene, and another, and another, and while the book works perfectly well as a stand-alone, I WANTED MORE MORE MORE—I read the whole book in one sitting, pausing only to hug it occasionally.
Two other books that deal with letters: One that I’ve read, one that I want to read!
One I’ve read: A Corner of White, by Jaclyn Moriarty.
Of course, Jaclyn Moriarty’s quintessential book of letters is A Year of Secret Assignments, which is hilarious, heart-breaking, wonderfully crass, adorable and chock-full of heart. Her most recent book, A Corner of White, has all of those fabulous qualities (except the crassness) but with one addition: Fantastical Worldbuilding. Instead of letters between schools, A Corner of White features letters between worlds. It’ll take most readers some time to settle in, and some might be thrown by her rapid scene changes, but it’s a lovely, smart book and I can’t wait for the next one in the series.
One I’ve been wanting to read: Ketchup Clouds, by Annabel Pitcher.
This one promises to be significantly darker than the other two I’ve talked about in this column. It’s about a British girl who writes letters to a death row inmate in Texas…because they’ve got something in common: They both killed someone. Annnnnnnd that’s really all I know about it, other than that it got starred reviews, like, EVERYWHERE. So I’m thinking that I should order a copy ASAP.
*Years later, and Same Difference is still with me. SO GOOD.
If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or running the show at her local library, Leila Roy might be making stuff for her Etsy shop while rewatching Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, Black Books or Twin Peaks. Well, that or she’s hanging out on Twitter. Or both.