I Thought I Was Cheated An Ending

There be spoilers, however, slight below. You’ve been warned!

I was tempted to be upset with All the Boys I’ve Loved Before when I finished it. The book just ends with no major resolution to love plot line.

After a good day of stewing, I took a step back and asked myself, ‘What was the point of the book?’ Not in a derisive way but in a general curious way. What did the author want to accomplish or what was supposed to shine through for the characters? Was the point for Lara Jean to end up with someone or was it something more than that. I reflected on how she changed over the course of the narrative and whether her main narrative still works without tying up this important knot.

Lara Jean lives in a world of fantasy. She has fanciful ideas of love and romance. She writes love letters to dispel crushes, locking her feeling away with pen and paper and a vintage hat box. But over the course of the narrative, her notions of love are complicated. When her deepest feelings are revealed to those boys of the past, they’re dredged up again. This is further complicated by her relationship with her older sister, Margot, the reality of hour relationships change and evolve, high school politics–the works! It’s through this whirlwind of events that she snags herself a ‘pretend’ boyfriend to ward off another. She gets to know her heart and the complexities therein.

The ending, in this context, makes sense. Lara Jean ends the book with a vague sadness. During the time of beginnings that is the New Year, she couldn’t explain why she was sad to her younger sister, Kitty. During the course of the narrative, Lara Jean emotionally matured. And that maturity leads to the inevitable truth that nothing ever lives up to fantasy. Doesn’t make it any less amazing or beautiful in its own way but it does disabuse you of notions of the perfect romance and happily ever after.

I used to tell myself that I just wasn’t into romance novels, movies, etc. But All the Boys I’ve Loved Before made me root for a romance that was fraught and made me sad that I didn’t get it. The book recognizes the bittersweetness of relationships, not just romantic ones. It made me crave more and that is the ultimate compliment I could give to a book, nay, any piece of media.

The Symptoms of Being Human [Review]

317NveomEvL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_I really appreciate YA novels (well, any book in general but YA in particular) that make me see beyond the narrative and immerse me in a feeling. A feeling so powerful and distinct that it alone carries me through the book. It makes me feel a kinship with the characters. I ride their rollercoaster of emotions and get a true sense of who that character is–their hopes, dreams, fears.

The Symptoms of Being Human gave me this feeling. The main character, Riley is so fleshed out and relatable. Their struggle to get comfortable in their own skin (they’re genderfluid) and how they navigated the world came off so viscerally. The people they surround themselves with make the story all the more enjoyable.

One thing that I really liked about this story was that the narrative never betrayed Riley. True to its message and its character, the story presents Riley as both and neither. They’re carving out their own identity in this world. I half expected the narrative to out them at some point but it never did and this really helped solidify the narrative’s message.

My main complaint about this story is that though it has a lot of emotional depth, the plot is a bit thin. Other than a highly publicized climax, the story is mostly composed of character interactions mostly at school. Other key events are not experienced by Riley. They happen outside and far from them. This is not completely a bad thing. I personally got so swept up in the high character moments to never notice while reading but upon reflection, I would’ve appreciated it more if there was more to the story. At least from Riley’s POV.

My Rating:

3 Star