Rambling Thoughts after Watching To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

*rubs palms together * Where shall I start…

This adaptation of Jenny Han’s novel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has been a long time in the making for 14-year-old me who was obsessed with the series. And I already have to note that the film was such a satisfying remake for me to experience on the big screen; I was grinning from ear to ear for the entirety of it. (My 14-year-old self would’ve definitely created a fan account for the film. That’s how good it was.)

When Lara Jean Song Covey’s love letters for every boy she’s ever loved are sent out, her life is soon thrown into chaos when her foregoing loves confront her one by one.
There’s so much I want to cover in my review, so I’ll settle for making a list à la Lara Jean:

(Spoilers from here.)

  • The icebreaker delivered in the opening scene of this movie settled my worries regarding the cliche rate it was going to settle for; there are zero to none.
  • Lana Condor, who stars as Lara Jean, channels in her character perfectly with the awkward fumbling, sweet and quiet nature. There’s one scene, in particular, where I could practically hear her thinking aloud simply by looking at her facial expressions that are so entirely Lara Jean. From stolen glances to her perfect comedic timing with delivering one-liners, she feels what Lara Jean feels.
  • The attention paid to details in this movie is beyond wholesome. From the aesthetic shots to the set design (there’s a red painting in LJ’s room to the far left that I was ogling the whole movie), and even the background matching Lara Jean’s outfits. It’s the tiny details that had me marveling me at how well they captured the tone of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
  • There hasn’t been a movie in a while that has enraptured me as strongly as this one. I zoomed through it, though, I had two excruciating (but necessary) breaks where I was practically on edge to return and complete my watching experience. This quote from my favorite book says it best: ‘Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision.’ As I watched, I was reminded of all the films that evoked similar strong emotions out of me: Freaky Friday (2003), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), and The Last Song (2010). To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has been added to my list of favorites, for sure.
  • This might also be a fitting time to share my favorite quote from Jenny Han’s novel that I was hoping to be featured in the adaptation:

You’d rather make up a fantasy version of somebody in your head than be with a real person.

The quote specifically wasn’t featured in the film, but the concept behind it sure was. LJ living this double life, where she walks around in a half-dream haze waiting to return to her ‘real life’ fantasy, is explored throughout her coming-of-age journey.

  • Which is where Peter Kavinsky comes in to save the day. His easy nature and confident ways always had me smiling like a fool in the first book. And it did the same old trick in this film, as well. Like I mentioned back in March when comparing him to Chris for my original Skam Book Tag: The Boy Squad.
    Though, now that I know of John Ambrose showing up, who stole my heart back in 2015 with P.S. I Still Love You, the jury is still out on my commitment to Covinsky. I willing to wait for more to be revealed in the sequel (she said, hoping the film received green light on continuing).
  • Back to the movie, though, I have to share some specifics that had me cackling, giggling, and squealing and everything in between:

#1 The horror music playing when the love letters were first revealed to be in the hand of the recipient. There’s no scary movie that will get your heart beating like that.

Those close-ups get me every time. It’s like there’s an ax in their hand for how dramatic the music made it.

#2 Jenny Han’s cameo, smiling so proudly at her own creations coming to life.

#3 Beautiful, cinematic movie shots. echo Shot Shot Shots vine

#4  The realness that is talking to yourself in your crush’s voice.

#5 Lara Jean’s shoes shown throughout the movie are show-stopping. They’re also the first thing Peter noticed about her, hence my choice of using the song ♪Fancy Shoes♪ by The Walters in my edit at the start of the review.

  • This movie also brilliantly covers specifics I didn’t even think about to make everyday interactions even more realistic. Like the scene where Peter and Lara Jean photograph each other to set as their phone background. This is like some modern HSM with Troy and Gabriella at the New Years party.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before excels at actually delving into Peter and Lara Jean’s interactions, wherein they actually get to know each other and listen intently to the stories they share. It’s quietly intimate moments like these that get me. Like Peter spending time with LJ and her little sister by staying in and watching movies:

I do have to say, though, that I’m low-key sad the movie didn’t feature the precious Halloween scene with Peter and Kitty bonding because my heart still gets weak whenever I think back to it.

Also: the couple completing domestic tasks together (like putting away the dishes) is my jam.Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55

In short: I positively adored To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It’s a faithful adaption to Jenny Han’s novel, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Except maybe having the sequel confirmed…

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Wedding Shenanigans, Family Disasters, and Childhood Crushes in Save the Date by Morgan Matson

“It was that feeling like when the lights come up after a movie—how it takes a minute to let go of the world you’d been immersed in. ”

I’ve been patiently waiting for this newest Matson’s book, back when its release date had been set for the same day as Sarah Dessen’s Once and For All, both surrounding the wedding season, though, the latter is more on planning than attending one. Save the Date still holds the same hectic atmosphere since the main event – the wedding – is taking place at the Grant’s house with a bunch of siblings set to arrive all at once.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

I forgot how quickly these contemporary reads go by. You start to get into it and then poof the book’s over.

Save the Date, in particular, hit it off with a bang by starting with a romantic get-together that swept me right into the storyline. I’m a (low-key) sucker for obsessional crushes, so seeing Charlie’s keenness on her childhood crush was all too real; Jesse Foster is no longer a boy in her eyes, but a mythical figure that can do no wrong.

The book hits the mark on experiencing unrequited crushes and observing from the sidelines. Like my favorite quote from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before conveys: ‘You’d rather make up a fantasy version of somebody in your head than be with a real person.’

I mean, I can’t stop thinking about this:

“Jesse didn’t move over from his spot on the middle cushion, so when I sat on the couch, I was closer to him than I had ever been before, except for two memorable occasions—when we’d been stuck in an elevator together at a laser tag place for Mike’s fourteenth birthday, and a memorable car ride when I was twelve and we’d been coming back from playing mini golf in Hartfield, all of us crammed into the car, and somehow, I’d ended up in the way back next to Jesse, Mike on his other side. And Jesse kept turning to talk to Mike, which meant he kept leaning into me, his bare leg pressing against mine. It had been a thirty-minute ride home, and the whole time, I’d prayed for a traffic jam, a road closure, a flat tire—anything to keep it going longer. So, as I sat on the couch next to him now, it was with full awareness that this proximity to him—voluntary, as opposed to car-logistic mandated—was a brand-new thing.”

rubs hands together Now, it’s getting good.Save the Date 2-- bookspoils

“She didn’t know what it was like to look and wish and want, always two steps behind the person, always on the edges of their life. What it was like to stand next to someone and know you weren’t registering with them, not in any meaningful way. That you thought about someone a thousand times more than they’d ever thought about you. To know that you were just a face in the crowd scenes while they were center stage. And then, all at once, to have the spotlight finally swing over to you. To suddenly be visible, to be seen, no longer one of the people in the background who never get any lines. To suddenly be in the midst of something you’d only ever looked at from the sidelines. What that felt like when it finally happened, dropped in your lap when you were least expecting it, like a gift you were half-afraid to open.”

This right here is exactly why I so love Wren’s line from Fangirl: “That moment,” she told Cath, “when you realize that a guy’s looking at you differently—that you’re taking up more space in his field of vision. That moment when you know he can’t see past you anymore.” 

I’ll never tire of seeing books get it right when discussing something close to heart. I was living vicariously through Charlie and Jesse’s interactions, which is why this became such a pivotal reading experience for me when it went the extra mile of showing the reason these types of crushes don’t tend to develop any further is because you hold them on this invisible pedestal, whereas for them you’re just a body in a crowd.

“He was a nice guy. He was cute, and he was a great kisser. But that was actually all I really knew about him, Jesse the actual person. I couldn’t have told you his favorite movie, or his roommate’s name, or his greatest fear. He wasn’t who I thought he was all those years, because that person didn’t exist. That Jesse was just a compilation of everything I’d projected onto him, coupled with a handful of real-life interactions that I’d given far too much value to.”

Her anthem should include Dua Lipa’s New Rules.

Analysing and reading into their every move can become exhausting really quickly, so I was beyond grateful to safely experience from the sidelines where all this can lead to with Save the Date. (Another great book that touches upon this is The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.)

I’m putting that major revelation aside by moving on to discuss the actual book, which is ‘what you see is what you get’ synopsis-wise since the entirety of it is set around three hectic wedding days (without any major flashbacks). Consequently, the usual contemporary, summer fun isn’t quite as present here as with Matson’s previous books, especially when each developing storyline could be detected from a mile away.

The only remaining upside Save the Date held for me were Charlie’s siblings with their dynamic personalities put into one house. It’s the little things that made them seem so close to me. Like, calling for “witnesses” when making a bet, or their “not it” gesture of pulling on their earlobe.

“This was one of the thousands of tiny things that only happened when we were together, one of the things you didn’t know you’d miss until it was gone.”

It’s these details that are able to procure real, authentic moments.

“Mike Drop?”
“No!” I said quickly. Mike Drops were something that J.J. and Danny had done a lot when Mike was in elementary school and they were much, much bigger than he was. It was true to its name—Danny would pick up Mike, yell “Mike Drop!” and toss him in the air and J.J. would dash in and catch him just before he hit the floor. All of which had worked out great when Mike was six. But as they’d all gotten older, J.J. sometimes forgot to catch him, and they had a way of getting people injured, sometimes all three of them in the same Mike Drop.”

They were a never-ending hoot to read about. As well as the scarcely Grant Central Station comic strips scattered throughout.

Save the Date 1-- bookspoils

Save the Date 3-- bookspoils

Plus, there’s the added bonus of featuring quite the creative chapter titles that make for a compelling road ahead, with favorites including: “Or, Acronyms Are Not Always a Good Idea Or, AANAAGI” & “Or, 98% of All Statistics Are Made Up on the Spot.”

Overall, Save the Date was an enjoyable YA read, though a bit rushed in places, and included just the right amount of fun and laughter.

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Cute Boys, Late Summer Nights, and Blossoming Friendships

My umpteenth reread of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl made me realize how compulsively readable the contemporary books that made my 2014/’15 were. So the queen of the genre, aka Sarah Dessen, had to make a comeback for my next reread.

They just don’t make them like this anymore. I’ve yet to experience a new summer contemporary read that receives the surrounding hype of Stephanie Perkins’s Anna and the French Kiss, Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone, and Dessen’s The Truth About Forever. Reading this made me recall how I achingly miss that feeling of fun and ease those iconic books that scream of summer provided when I needed it the most. I mean, remembering my reading experience of these books now feels like sifting through teen memories, and even though I didn’t encounter the described events personally, I experienced so much joy reading them that they simply feel like mine. And it’s exactly this rush of emotion that I haven’t felt in a while with a YA book.

Now, I definitely feel the keen need to revisit more of the kind in the near future. But in the meantime, I’ve compiled a list of things I adored within this reread:

  • The tiny random moments of resemblance Fangirl shares with The Truth About Forever (I had to note it down with the former book still so fresh in my mind): Wes’s pickup truck coming to save the day (Levi’s red truck), Macy’s denying invitations (Cath), Bert pushing the doors with too much gusto (Reagan’s quirk).
  • My favorite catering crew to exist in fiction, aka Wish Catering, with their tiny mishaps somehow always solved before the night is done. I definitely had to rearrange my expectations when it came to them since I recalled the dynamics between the crew a tad different, but still, they were so good.

“They honestly seemed to believe that things would just work out. And the weirdest thing was, they did. Somehow. Eventually. Although even when I was standing right there I couldn’t say how.”

  • One of my favorite scenes arose out of Macy sharing with Kristy her experience of being in a relationship with Jason, whose constant need for perfection makes her fall short again and again in his eyes and consequently makes her doubt her every move… So Kristy makes sure to pass onto Macy her confidence.

“—would totally want to hear say she loved him. You’re smart, you’re gorgeous, you’re a good person. I mean, what makes him such a catch, anyway? Who is he to judge?”
“He’s Jason,” I said, for lack of a better argument.
“Well, he’s a fuckhead.” She sucked down the rest of her beer. “And if I were you, I’d be glad to be rid of him. Because anyone that can make you feel that bad about yourself is toxic, you know?”
“He doesn’t make me feel bad about myself,” I said, knowing even as my lips formed the words this was exactly what he did. Or what I let him do. It was hard to say.
“What you need,” Kristy said, “what you deserve, is a guy who adores you for what you are. Who doesn’t see you as a project, but a prize. You know?”
“I’m no prize,” I said, shaking my head.
“Yes,” she said, and she sounded so sure it startled me: like she could be so positive while hardly knowing me at all. “You are. What sucks is how you can’t even see it.”

It brought to mind this empowering exchange from Skam

  • The ongoing “gotcha” scare game shared between the two brothers, Wes and Bert, reminded me of the trailer for the upcoming film Tag and the true story behind it, titled: I’ve played a game of tag for 23 years. The game came from a bad period in life that later blossomed into a more concrete focal point for the brothers.

“Truthfully, it’s just this dumb thing we started about a year ago. It pretty much came from us living alone in the house after my mom died. It was really quiet, so it was easy to sneak around.”

“Plus,” Wes continued, “there’s just something fun, every once in a while, about getting the shit scared out of you. You know?”

  • Speaking of, seeing Wes care for his younger brother, Bert, who’s beyond nervous to go to a very important engagement (…Armageddon club), was a huge sa-woon worthy moment for me.

“Calm down,” Wes said, stepping around me into the room and walking up to Bert. He untangled the tie, smoothing the ends. “Stand still.” Then Bert and I both stood and watched as, with one cross, a twist, and a yank, he tied the knot perfectly.
“Wow,” Bert said, looking down at it as Wes stepped back, examining his handiwork. “When did you learn that?”
“When I had to go to court,” Wes told him. He reached up, plucking the piece of tissue off his brother’s face, then straightened the tie again. “Do you have enough money?”
Bert snorted. “I prebought my ticket way back in March. There’s a chicken dinner and dessert. It’s all paid for.”
Wes pulled out his wallet and slid out a twenty, tucking it into Bert’s pocket. “No more cologne, okay?”

  • I do have to mention, though, that after the initial excitement slipped away, I couldn’t help but notice the few irks that came to bother me: the way Macy’s mother was characterized, Kristy barely appearing after Macy and Wes grow closer, Wes himself not being given enough character building so that he essentially resembled a mirror image to Macy (both have lost a parent, both have a bf/gf on hold, both can’t accept a compliment, etc.), and it was too unequivocally convient to feel real. And then it also hit a bit of a rut when the catering crew, who were one of the biggest highlights for me, didn’t appear in the following scenes.

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55Overall, I had a nice walk down memory lane by rereading The Truth About Forever, but the memory of the book still holds more appeal for me than the actual book.

I did, however, really enjoy this Rex Orange County song that gets the mood of this read:

I’ll find a spot that’s just for me and see if I can cope without An ounce of pain, without an ounce of pain Said the likelihood just frightens me and it’s easier to hide But I can’t ignore it endlessly, eventually things die

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Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying The Truth About Foreverjust click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!