Small Changes in the To All the Boys Film Adaptation That Make ALL the Difference

Obsessed as I am with reading, I actually hadn't delved into Jenny Han's novel, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, before watching the Netflix film adaptation.

With sweet characters, a relatable storyline and (obviously) the stunningly perfect Peter Kavinsky, I was hooked on this movie from the start. But since you can only watch a film so many times, my next step was to run out and buy the novel so I could relive the story of these characters and continue to feed my quickly growing obsession.

Lara Jean Covey in To All the Boys I've Loved Before

(To All the Boys I've Loved Before via Netflix)

While I love both the film and the book, there were definitely some major differences in the adaptation that really changed my view of the characters. To be honest, I adored the unreachable perfection of the movie characters, which made the human flaws and subtle mistakes of the book characters feel like a betrayal against my beloved Peter and adorable Lara Jean.

While I could ramble on about this story all day long, I'll try to be succinct. Keep scrolling for small changes in the To All the Boys I've Loved Before film adaptation that make all the difference.

1. The Reason Kitty Sends the Letters

In both the movie and the film, Kitty—Lara Jean's younger sister—goes through her sister's things and ends up mailing her five very private and highly embarrassing love letters. In the movie, Kitty mails the letters because she doesn't feel like her sister has much of a life outside of spending time at home and baking. She claims that she could tell that Peter liked Lara Jean and she thought "five chances at a boyfriend was better odds," so—misguided as she may have been—she had Lara Jean's best interests at heart when she mailed the letters.

In the book, however, Kitty mails the letters to get back at Lara Jean after they have a disagreement. Lara Jean jokingly hints toward the fact that she's going to reveal Kitty's crush on Josh, and Kitty—unable to let go of her grudge—mails the letters as payback. Personally, I think a misguided attempt at sisterly love makes for a more heartwarming storyline than a vengeful act by an immature younger sister. The book, while a more accurate portrayal of a sisterly relationship, makes Kitty a more unlikable character, which makes the movie version my preferred for portrayal of this sassy Covey sister.

Lara Jean writing a letter

(To All the Boys I've Loved Before via Netflix)

2. Peter and Lara Jean's First Kiss

In both the book and the movie, Peter is Lara Jean's first kiss. In the movie version, Peter and Lara Jean share their smooch during a game of spin the bottle. Although it's obvious that Peter wants to kiss her, it's still a fabricated moment, making it a little more understandable when Peter moves on to date Gen.

In the book, Peter simply kisses Lara Jean because he likes her. Which then begs the question—why on earth did he pursue a relationship with her best friend and not Lara Jean herself? It makes Peter seem like a bit of a player, and that's just not the angelic Peter we've come to know and love.

Peter kissing Lara Jean on the cheek at a party in To All the Boys I've Loved Before

(To All the Boys I've Loved Before via Netflix)

3. Lara Jean's Letter to Peter

Although the movie never fully outlines Lara Jean's letter to Peter, it's painted as a beautiful and heartwarming note about all the things she loves about him. Peter mentions something about how she loves the golden specks in his eyes, and we're left with the idea that it was a letter worthy of our favorite romance novels.

In the book, Lara Jean's letter is much more biting. She mentions a few things she likes about him, but overall the tone of the letter is deeply critical. She accuses him of stealing her first kiss, states that his cockiness and arrogance is annoying and laments their smooch because if not for that moment she never would have started liking him. It definitely doesn't read like a love letter, and we much prefer to imagine that she only had nice things to say about our sweet Peter, rather than accusing him of never thinking of anyone but himself and always stealing the last slice of pizza.

Lara Jean and Peter laying on the floor in her room in To All the Boys I've Loved Before

(To All the Boys I've Loved Before via Netflix)

4. The Way Peter and Lara Jean Interact

In the movie, Lara Jean and Peter get along right from the start. They're definitely different people and they have very different interests, but overall they're very supportive and kind to each other. In the book, unfortunately, they have a much more contentious relationship. Peter is much more self-absorbed and arrogant, and his conceited personality often annoys Lara Jean.

They get along as a whole, but they're often irritated with each other, and their communication just isn't as seamless as it is in the movie. It might be unrealistic to expect such different people to get along so well, but their natural chemistry and easy interactions were one of the main draws of the movie for me, so the constant bickering in the book made it a little harder to root for their happiness.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before: Lara Jean and Peter cuddling on the bus home from the ski trip

(To All the Boys I've Loved Before via Netflix)

5. Lara Jean's Relationship With Josh

In the movie, Josh definitely disapproves of Lara Jean's relationship with Peter, but his reasons are pretty vague. It's possible that he could be jealous, but overall he just seems to feel a little insecure that he's lost Lara Jean's friendship. Plus, he really seems to dislike Peter in general, mostly due to the fact that he's a popular jock.

In the book, Josh and Lara Jean's relationship is much more clear cut. When Josh receives the love letter, he basically tells Lara Jean that it would have made a difference to him if he had known sooner, as she was his first crush ever. He even goes so far as to kiss her while they're setting up Christmas decorations. His kiss gives Lara Jean the closure she needs about that period of her life, and it's also one of the main reasons that Margot is so upset when she finds out.

While we appreciate the definition to their relationship, we still prefer the slightly vague movie version. The outright kiss and Josh's admittance that he would have chosen Lara Jean makes it feel like a true betrayal to Margot, whereas the movie Lara Jean is very careful to keep those lines separate. We love the loyalty the movie gives to this sisterly relationship.


(To All the Boys I've Loved Before via Netflix)

6. John Ambrose McClaren

In the movie, John Ambrose McClaren is casually mentioned as one of the recipients of Lara Jean's love letters and then he shows up at the very end bearing flowers and asking for Lara Jean. Without giving too much away (still hoping for that sequel, Netflix), John Ambrose plays a much bigger role in the books. Lara Jean even goes as far as to head to a Model UN scrimmage while she's dating Peter to see John Ambrose again, thinking he may have been "the one who got away."

While we like this twist and hope that it's explored further in the sequel, we're pretty in love with the way the movie chose to give Lara Jean eyes for Peter alone. It makes their overall relationship and eventual reconciliation that much more romantic when we know Lara Jean wasn't interested in anyone else along the way.

John Ambrose McClaren in To All the Boys I've Loved Before

(To All the Boys I've Loved Before via Netflix)


Looking for more content about this adorable rom-com? Click HERE for five movies that totally inspired To All the Boys I've Loved Before.