MOVIE + BOOK REVIEW: To All the Boys I Loved Before, Jenny Han

It’s been a while, friends. Work is busier than ever and my free time is now mostly spent catching up on my z’s and conquering my towering stacks of unread books. But last Friday (after a 12 hr workday), I knew I had to do something else before I turned in for the night: watch the TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE movie on Netflix.

And it was so perfect, I really have no complaints at all.

I’m super late to the party and only read the trilogy within the past year—but I loved it immediately. An Asian protagonist, love triangles galore, healthy family dynamics…what is there not to love?

A little 411 for those out of the loop: TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE centers on Lara Jean Covey, a teen who writes secret love letters to her crushes but doesn’t send them. Until they mysteriously get sent. Among the recipients include the boy-next-door, Josh, who also happens to be her sister’s boyfriend and Peter Kavinsky, the most popular guy in school.

Ok. So I am a complete sucker for the “childhood friends to lovers” trope. I will read and watch  everything and anything that includes this plot line. When it comes to love triangles, I rarely side with the wildcard or bad boy/girl. I am almost always exclusively on Team Good Girl/Guy or Team Best Friend. (See my love for Dawson Leery and Jem Carstairs) And I will admit to starting this series completely on Team Josh. Even midway through the first book I was still firmly Team Josh. But then something wonderfully unexpected happened to make me switch sides. And that wonderful thing is Peter Kavinsky.

Oh Peter. Peter K. P. Kavinsky. You perfect human being.

I love me some angst and heartache so book two and three both made me cry. And Netflix, if you don’t pick up the rest of the series, I will storm your headquarters…or write some very impassioned tweets. Ok, maybe I’ll just shake my fists.

<—— LOOK AT THOSE CUTIES. I NEED THEIR ENTIRE LOVE STORY, PLEASE.

Minor spoilers below for the movie 🙂

But this film? Five sugary sweet stars. Lana Condor. Your career better blow up after this. She is the absolute perfect Lara Jean and was so damn endearing the entire film. In fact, all of the casting in this movie was SPOT. ON. I loved Kitty. I loved Margot. I loved that John Corbett was the dad. And, of course, Noah Centineo as Peter K made my entire year.

As is typical of most book to movie adaptations, it doesn’t precisely follow the narrative but does a pretty damn good job. The most striking difference to me, was the almost complete elimination of love triangle element—but it didn’t bother me a bit. And I LOVE love triangles.

I’m going to jump on the bandwagon with all the Asian Americans who are teary over the representation. One of my favorite new authors, Akemi Dawn Bowman, said this on Twitter recently about POC’s in lit: “They deserve a chance to learn, ON THE PAGE, that they are worthy of being the love interest. That being a person of color does not make them less desirable or beautiful or WHOLE than the people who get to be love interests over and over and over again.” And I felt this down to my core.

Jenny Han, thank you for not letting production companies whitewash Lara Jean and the Song sisters. Thank you for showing the industry that a young, Asian woman can be the focus of a successful film. Seeing this movie as a teenager would’ve meant the world to me—and it still means a lot at 28. Along with the recent release of CRAZY RICH ASIANS, I hope this trend only continues an upward trend.

If you haven’t read these books, they are super quick, adorable reads that will warm your heart. If you have access to Netflix, start streaming/downloading now. I’ve watched the movie three times now and my heart is so full.

An Unnecessary Star Wars Ramble

Enjoy a very belated and random review of the new Star Wars movie.

THIS IS NOT A SPOILER-FREE BLOG

I saw Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens in a packed theater on Christmas Day. It was one of those audiences that whooped when the main titles started and continued to clap whenever one of the veteran characters showed up on screen. Overly enthusiastic audiences during movies is one of my major pet peeves (Magic Mike was a nightmare), but it didn’t completely kill my spirits. I can imagine it’s how I felt when the first Harry Potter movie came out, but then again, I still didn’t outwardly show my glee. I suppose that goes along with the whole “conceal, don’t feel” a la Frozen bit I’ve got going on…but I digress.

I went into this viewing with absolutely no expectations. I agreed to see both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith for two reasons: Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen. This movie has no Ewan McGregor or Hayden Christensen. I basically signed up for R2D2, who had a minute of screen time. Boo. BB-8 ain’t got nothin’ on you.

However, I was greatly surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie. I’m not a fan of action movies, but I always enjoy a “good vs. evil and good prevails” type of film. My viewing partner aka dad was not so impressed, but maybe it’s because this wasn’t a highly anticipated film for me.

The new cast is good. That seems pretty basic to say, but it’s true. Strong, female protagonists are pretty cool, and newcomer Daisy Ridley chose the perfect film for making her debut. From the talk show appearances he’s done, John Boyega seems perfectly likeable and Adam Driver has the perfect voice for a villain. Also, props on the diversity.

**Here’s your second spoiler warning**

I’m extremely impressed that the Internet kept the death of one Han Solo underwraps. (And admit it: you had a feeling that Kylo Ren wasn’t just going to turn back to the good side that easily.) But still, for an iconic character, this was a pretty bold move. Although, I’m sure they’ll find a way to bring him back for the next two movies. A hologram or something, probably. I’m also not onboard with the actors on the shortlist for a young Mr. Solo, even though Scott Eastwood is nice to look at. Hopefully they’ll pull another Daisy Ridley and find another talented unknown to play the coveted role.

And who do I think Rey’s parents are? Jury’s still out. It would make sense for the series if she is secretly a Skywalker. If she’s Leia and Han’s kiddo that could lead to an epic brother-sister showdown with Kylo Ren, and I’m completely up for that. Or maybe we haven’t met them yet…

I still wouldn’t consider myself a devoted Star Wars fan, but this movie was generally an enjoyable experience for me. I hope the sequels bring new pretty faces and more R2D2.