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‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’: Is the Book or Movie Better?

Many of us have fallen head over heels for new Netflix Rom-Com ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.’ Originally penned by Korean-American author Jenny Han, many fans were quick to express their disappointment at the amount of artistic licence taken by movie producers. This book is close to a lot of people’s hearts as, unusually, it has three main Korean-American characters. So, I decided to read the book and see what all the fuss was about!

Jenny Han’s 2014 novel remained in The New York Times Bestseller List for a staggering 40 weeks

It’s rare that movies live up to the books if you’ve read them first. But that’s understandable; authors can give more detail about each character and situation, and they don’t have to worry about budget or run-time. When you first read a book, you create a picture in your mind of the characters. The actors rarely live up to this image. However, the casting director for ‘To All the Boys’ got it right for the most part, especially casting Noah Centineo, aka the internet’s new boyfriend, as Peter Kavinsky. Jenny Han describes Peter Kavinsky as having “the look of a Handsome Boy from a different time. He could be a dashing World War I soldier, handsome enough for a girl to wait years for him to come back from a war, so handsome she could wait forever.” Noah fits that description pretty perfectly, right?

Noah Centineo plays love interest Peter Kavinsky. Credit: iHeartRadio

Obviously, there are things that couldn’t go into the movie, but I think there are a few things that could have been added in or done differently:

  1. The Letters

The five love letters that Lara Jean writes, not expecting their addressees to ever read them, are such an integral part of the plot and I don’t think they were featured enough in the movie. In the book, we get to read four out of the five letters, I think they could have got Lana Condor, who plays Lara Jean, to do a voice-over reading the letters. In the movie, Kitty (Lara Jean’s little sister) sends out the letters to get her big sister a boyfriend, thinking the odds are better if she sends all the letters. Whereas in the book, she sends them out of spite because Lara Jean was teasing her. I think the latter reason is a more accurate representation of why a little sister would do something. Also, in the final scene, why couldn’t Lara Jean read the love letter that starts the second book, ‘P.S. I Still Love You’, instead of the rather unromantic line “I like you Peter, and not in a fake way.”

The five letters that start all the drama (as they appear in the movie) – Credit: Netflix.

  1. Jamie Fox-Pickle and More Kitty

Throughout most of the book, Kitty is continually asking for a puppy. Then on Christmas Day, a Wheaten Terrier puppy is sitting on their doorstep. Kitty, who is perfectly portrayed by Anna Cathcart in the movie, names him Jamie. I assume the movie doesn’t have Jamie due to all the risks of having an animal on set. However, I think he would have been a very adorable addition and this also meant less Kitty and that’s not good enough. The way Peter acts around her is so sweet and she is an important part of convincing Margot (Lara Jean and Kitty’s older sister) that Peter is a good guy. I want more Kitty in the inevitable sequel.

Peter driving Lara Jean and Kitty to school. Credit: Netflix


  1. Peter and Lara Jean’s First Kiss

In the movie, the kiss is shown to happen during a game of Spin the Bottle, which is completely wrong. The Spin the Bottle kiss was actually between Lara Jean and John Ambrose McLaren (another recipient of a letter). Peter kissed Lara Jean at the end of her first mixed gender group playdate when they were the last two to be picked up. This is very important because later in the book, Peter says that he has always thought Lara Jean is “cute” and that’s why he kissed her. I don’t understand why this change was made.


However, it’s not all bad, there are a few additions that I enjoyed in the movie:

  1. Lucas and Lara Jean’s Friendship

Lucas receives a letter and when he returns the letter, he reveals that he’s gay. In the movie, they become friends and he is a nice contrast to Chris (Lara Jean’s best friend), who is a bit wild. In the books, they don’t become friends until the second book.

Credit: Netflix

2. Kitty Wearing A Helmet

In the book, Lara Jean absolutely hates driving. In the movie, she has to take Kitty to school; Kitty comes fully equipped for her older sister’s terrible driving, by wearing her bike helmet! I really like this addition because it builds on something that happens in the book.

Credit: BuzzFeed

3. Korean-American Lead Actors

The casting stays true to the book, selecting three Asian-American actresses, Lana Condor, Janel Parrish and Anna Cathcart. The Asian-American community has often been underrepresented in the film community but it looks like things are changing with the success of this movie and ‘Crazy Rich Asians.’

4. The Ending

I like happy endings. There I said it! I don’t like any of this cliff-hanger business. This is why I loved the ending of the movie so much: Lara Jean and Peter get together and everyone’s happy! Whereas the book ends with Lara Jean deciding she wants to get back together with Peter and starting to write him another love letter. I can’t imagine having to wait a whole year to find out whether they got together; I bought ‘P.S. I Still Love You’ straight away. Talking about sequels, I don’t know how they are going to manage it because they used quite a bit from book two in the first movie. However, given the popularity of this adaptation, I’m sure they’ll find a way. And I, for one, am looking forward to watching it.

The happy ending! Credit: Netflix

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I come from Cardiff, which is in the UK. Writing is one of my greatest passions, I just feel so happy when I'm writing. Camila Cabello and New Hope Club are my favourite artists. Tom Holland would be my favourite actor if he hadn't made me cry so much in Avengers: Infinity War! I am also a strong believer in equal rights for everyone, as I have a physical disability. You can follow me on Instagram @lucyparryyy and on Twitter @Lucy15Parry

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