A Love Letter To Jenny Han

  Before there was John Green, there was Jenny Han. (Not literally, I'm actually not sure who is older.) I mean, for me. Years before I ever picked up my first John Green book, (Paper Towns, if you were interested) Jenny Han had been teaching me about the ins and outs of adolescence. When I was about 12, I picked up her first book, Shug. It’s been a while since I read it, but I remember it teaching me about all-important first kisses and those irresistible boys next door. And that was when I fell in love with her writing. 

  A few years later my older, bookish, Gilmore Girls loving friend recommended The Summer I Turned Pretty series. I was instantly hooked, and I can remember staying up late into those hot summer nights reading the first two books. Then I waited (not so) patiently for the third, and bought it the second it came out. I can remember going back and forth between Conrad and Jeremiah, and feeling as torn as Belly, even though I had nothing to compare her experience to. That series taught me about first loves and first losses and making your first big mistakes and choices. (Though I will admit, for me it was always going to be Conrad...)

  Then last spring Han's book To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before came out, and everyone in the bookish community was abuzz about it. But I already knew I’d be picking it up, because by this point I was a long-time Jenny Han fangirl. I grabbed it the day it came out, and even though I was 18 when I read it, it still resonated strongly with me. When I read this book, (and its recent sequel P.S. I Still Love You) I finally had real-life boys to compare Lara Jean’s long list of (almost) ex-lovers to. I felt it all more deeply because I had begun to feel more deeply. But this duo-logy contains so many more lessons than just those about boys.

  P.S. I Still Love You touched on important topics like feminism, (and what it really is) slut-shaming and the differences in how men and women are treated in the same situations, even at the high school age. Being 19, I really picked up on those threads, and appreciated that they were woven into a best-selling series for young adults. I'm really glad that Jenny Han's books are so popular, because they are extremely readable, well written, and send such positive messages to young girls. And I'm over the moon that just a few days ago at my job at the library, a 13 year old girl took this book out.

  I feel like with each of Jenny Han's books, she's taught her readers about the next stage of life. The next unknown. I’ve grown up with her stories, though not in the same way that I literally grew up with Harry Potter, to be fair. But as I look back, I see that at the pivotal points in my life, nay, the awkward, in-between points in my life, there was a Jenny Han book by my side that taught me what to do. I think Jenny Han deserves all of her success and more, because her novels are proof that the fun, sweet, and romantic YA genre can also be a vehicle for educating young people. A book can be fun to read and still teach you something valuable.

  So for that, I must say: Jenny Han, I love you

 - Fran

P.S.- There's actually going to be a third book, right? RIGHT?!