To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a movie about the power of the hand-written word. It is a movie about stationery. There are other, incidental themes like young love and sisterhood and vulnerability. But let’s focus on the important stuff right now.
Where does Lara Jean Covey store her private, personal longings? In letters to her crushes. Each is hand-written, decorated, and placed inside their own distinctive envelopes. If you, like me, have watched the movie a half-dozen times you’ve seen that Lara Jean knows her way around washi tape, kraft paper envelopes, felt pens, stickers, even calligraphy. (I am deep in my bones certain that LJ would be right at home in the CW Sticker Emporium.)
Love letters are Lara Jean’s form of no-risk romance. Through her letters she can inhabit her fantasy world where she gets to fall in love with the neighboring field hand, wispy breeze carrying her dress as her lover draws her hand to his lips et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And all the better that she doesn’t stand to lose anything by writing letters she never intends to send. Why not go wild with that calligraphy if the guy isn’t ever going to see her spilling her mushy guts to them?
Then, once those letters are out in the world and it’s time for her to do damage control, Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky draw up a contract, all LJ’s idea of course. At a picnic table underneath a shady tree Lara Jean writes down the most important parts of their pact on a sheet of notebook paper before making them both sign their joint document.
We don’t see her pencil pouch but I have a few ideas about what’d be inside it. In that scene we learn that Lara Jean Covey is a lefty. Her sisters would for sure have gone in together on a Lefty Gift Set made just for her. The package includes the essentials: a notebook from our friends at Iron Curtain Press that’s bound on the right side for left-handed people, a pencil sharpener that’s oriented for lefties, and CW Pencil Enterprise’s set of hand-picked pencils for lefties that minimize smudging while still providing a smooth writing experience.
During that negotiation Peter pitches his smartest, sweetest idea to sell their love to the rest of the school. Little notes, Peter knows, are intimate and personal mementos perfect for sharing big confessions or small thoughts you’d otherwise be too shy to say out loud. They’re also perfect for not-so-subtly waving around the cafeteria to make your ex-girlfriend jealous. Peter is not a dumb-dumb. He knows what’s up.
Peter probably carries a couple Milan jumbo pencils he likes for their writing ease and chubby plastic erasers that hold up through plenty of use. I know this because I've helped many customers with a similar build as Peter who appreciate a jumbo pencil for its ergonomic comfort. There's just less chance of a hand cramp coming on during long note-taking sessions when they're not trying to clutch a more narrow pencil. Peter's also got a ballpoint pen from deep in the CWPE archives that we included in one of our past season’s subscription boxes. The pen, perfect for goofballs and smart asses alike, says PENCIL on it. (Sorry, it's not for sale!)
Now with stationery, and important sentiments, squared away, it’s only at the end of the movie when Lara Jean realizes she’s not just been sending love letters, she’s been receiving gobs of them. Peter's notes finally convince LJ of what she's been trying not to see. This guy is actually seriously in to her.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before understands that when we write things down we can make our fantasies tiny, fleeting realities. We can clarify our jumbled insides by turning them into words that connect with other words on a page. And if we’re lucky, those words eventually connect with other people, too.