Jennifer Han ’02

Jenny HanJennifer Han is a best-selling author of young adult novels whose work has touched the hearts of young people worldwide, while simultaneously raising the popular profile of Carolina — the university her most famous literary heroine chooses to attend. Han’s body of work to date has resulted in remarkable literary and filmmaking success, while demonstrating deeply compassionate insight into a new generation.

Han’s best-selling novel “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” was named by TIME as one of the 100 best young adult books of all time and has been translated. The book is the first of a trilogy that describes the travails of an Asian American teenage girl and a hatbox full of love letters. The Netflix adaptation, executive produced by Han, was watched by 80 million viewers and generated a spin-off series. The first novel in her next trilogy, “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” was adapted for television by Amazon, with Han as creator and showrunner.

Han’s success has served as an inspiration to many writers and filmmakers of color, and in 2021 she spoke to hundreds of appreciative students at Carolina’s Asian American Center. Afterward, many students described how important they found it to see themselves in the characters in her books, and some even credited her with their decision to attend UNC-Chapel Hill.

Ms. Han’s warm narratorial voice offers candor and reassurance to today’s young adults, who are navigating complex economic, social and familial struggles with the scrutiny of social media at the same time. The depiction of her characters of color as complex, multifaceted individuals is part of an important growth in a genre of literature.