To All The Boys Advances Asian Representation On The Silver Screen

Jenny Han's novel has been adapted into a worthy movie.

Maron Negassi, Staff Writer

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a novel written by Jenny Han, is about a girl that wrote secret love letters to all of the crushes that she’s ever had. One day someone had decided to send all of the letters out, each containing all of her precious thoughts. This then causes a lot of obvious complications for Lara Jean because all the recipients of the letters want to confront her about the contents of the letters. As a shy and introverted person, this causes a lot of internal conflicts for her.

The movie version of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, debuted on Netflix on August 17, 2018, about four years after the release of the book version. The movie was an instant success and generated a lot of publicity for the young romantic leads, Lana Condor and Noah Centineo, and the book’s author, Jenny Han.

Lana Condor stars in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before based on the book by Jenny Han

What makes the movie version so successful is how relatable it is to the average teenager’s love life. Lara Jean, like many teenagers, has crush after crush but is too afraid to admit it. Even though she has these insecurities, she is still strong enough to play the part of Peter’s girlfriend.

As good as the movie was, I preferred reading the book because it was able to portray Lara Jeans’s thoughts in great detail. A lot of the conflict that occurred was in her head. For example, Laura Jean kept wondering whether or not she should allow herself to fall in love with Peter Kavinsky. Although the movie had shown her thoughts in a voiceover narration, it isn’t the same as reading the book.

I was bothered by some of the simplifications I saw on the screen. For instance, Lara Jean’s sister Margot was portrayed as being a complex character; she was a strong, independent-type who relied on the love and support of her sisters for strength. Meanwhile, the movie version only showed her independent side.
Despite its flaws, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, signals a major shift in Hollywood to take on Asian American Actors and portray them in a favorable light. The lead female character was set up as a respectable Asian American and a complex character worthy of an independent storyline.

Shortly before the release of this movie, theatergoers flocked to view Crazy Rich Asians, a movie that marked the change in Asian representation on screen.

Y.A. author Jenny Han is happy to witness this change and promote it in her own movie. “The shift is happening because there are more creators of color who are telling their stories. When you have that, you have someone who is really invested in seeing the story told the way that they imagined it,” Han said in an interview with People Magazine.

Even though the plot of the movie may seem simple, it will mark a change in Hollywood history concerning the diversity of characters. The movie received the attention it deserved and plenty of Lee students have considered themselves fans of it. As good as the movie is, the book is even better. So go straight to the library or download this renowned teen romance using the Overdrive app!