To All the People Who Have Lost Someone

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To All the People Who Have Lost Someone

Dani Wilson, Reporter

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“Honestly… it’s nice talking about her like it’s normal. Like it’s not some tragedy.”

I tapped the spacebar on my keyboard to pause the Netflix show, noticing the few stray tears escaping down my cheek. I took a deep breath and wiped one away.

I wasn’t crying because I was upset. I was crying because I felt a strange atmosphere of security in my emotions that I wasn’t used to. I had never seen myself in a character as much as I did at that moment.

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” has been praised time and time again for it’s genuine and witty take on life as a love-bitten teenager- which is fantastic. However, I have a different take on why it struck such a chord with me.

The main character in the movie, Laura Jean, is so wonderfully illustrated navigating the loss of a parent that I couldn’t believe it myself at first.

When it was first mentioned, I wasn’t totally caught off guard. I figured it was the usual movie trope- the mother dies, the kids live in a single-parent household, the only time the deceased parent is mentioned is the one time the main character happens to be asked.

Usually, a parent dying is simply used as a plot device. A way to justify certain actions, explain why a character acts a particular way, provoke sympathy.

However, I was so pleasantly surprised when that was not the case with TATBILB.

In one scene Laura Jean has dinner with Peter Kravinsky’s family, and Peter’s mother says to her plainly, “Your mother must love having girls!”

The room seems to freeze, while realization initiates an awkward silence across its occupants.

The rushed apologies and blank stares that follow are almost too authentic.

Laura Jean then had to make sure that Ms. Kravinsky knew that what she had said wasn’t offensive.

LJ feeling like she had to diffuse a situation that wasn’t her liability in the first place hit me really hard. My first reaction was knowing that I had felt that. It rang insanely true to real life, and I was shocked that Larua Jean’s relationships and interactions about her dead mother were so genuine.

Most movies don’t show the reality behind losing a parent. The messy interactions. The awkward apologies. The pain that everyone else believes you surely must be over by now, but it never truly goes away. It’s refreshing to see reality portrayed on the screen- to be able to relate to the characters; to know that someone else has felt what you’re feeling.

Likewise in the movie, LJ confesses to Peter that sometimes she forgets there was a time where the Covey household wasn’t just her sisters and dad. While the guilt that she expresses about those lapses in memory is seemingly cathartic for her, I was afraid of what Peter would say next.

So many people, including myself, don’t talk about difficult topics because of the awkward and eggshell-treading atmospheres it causes. However, when Peter responds with a similar situation of his own, it made me realize that opening up can help other people do the same.

My absolute favorite thing about this movie, though, is that Laura Jean is a fully functioning, vintage-loving, strong-willed teenager who just happened to lose her mom.

It isn’t treated like a personality trait. We get to watch Laura Jean grow throughout the film, years after her mother’s death, living her life like a normal person.

That’s the side of loss we usually don’t see- the part where you have to “move on”. The part where your world starts turning again, and you have to re-define your life without that missing person. The part where you recover.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is such a sincere representation of what it really is to lose a parent, and I will forever be grateful for the tiny feeling of understanding it has allowed me and so many others to experience.

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