Title: The Summer I Turned Pretty
Author: Jenny Han
Series: Summer #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 5, 2009
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.
“In the dark, you can feel really close to a person. You can say whatever you want.”
The Summer I Turned Pretty is one of the best contemporaries I have ever read. Everything about it exudes summer. The beaches, the parties, the casual relaxed feeling of not needing to know what day it is. It’s July in a novel.
Jenny Han is such a wonderful writer and made everything so clear. It almost seemed like you were there watching Belly’s summer unfold right in front of your eyes. Sometimes it kind of felt like you were Belly because she writes in this way that speaks to you and makes you relate to what’s going on. But she never did it in an ambiguous way where you can put yourself in Belly’s shoes at every given moment. Everything was clearly defined and obvious but somehow you come out of it knowing that a lot of people felt the exact same way. And the quotable moments. Oh the quotable moments! At so many instances did I think, “man, I just want to write that down somewhere because I feel that on a whole other level.”
I just want to say this right off the bat, Belly was annoying. No matter how engrossed I was in this story and what was going to go down with her and Conrad, she bothered me. And trust me, I was so immersed in their whole situation. I felt like she was too whiny and too in love with Conrad. It kind of seemed a bit obsessive. In flashbacks she seemed worse. She had the exact same voice as her current fifteen year old self, yet she was more frustrating.
Conrad and Jeremiah however are my boys for life. Each of their personalities spoke to me so much and I’m still sitting here trying to figure out which one I want her to be with more. I loved reading about them. They were both interesting and dynamic and by the end of this series, they better end up equally happy because they deserve the world and nothing less. The moms were pretty great too. Every time Laurel or Susannah spoke, they added something essential to the story. Basically the quintessential wise older people who shed some much needed perspective on the various situations happening throughout the novel.
“Moments, when lost, can’t be found again. They’re just gone.”
In terms of plot, I think this was one of the most relatable contemporary novels I have ever read. It brought me back to that whole feeling of unrequited love when we were all barely teens who quoted Taylor Swift songs and tried to imagine our life as Love Story. If I were a young teen reading this, I would probably be quoting this novel left and right as my status on Facebook (OK, maybe not because by the time Facebook was around, I was too old for that. More like the MSN Messenger days). I think anyone who reads this will instantly be thrown back into the good moments when they were thirteen and crushing hard on the cute and funny kid who you knew was going to grow up and be fine as heck in five years.
The pacing of the novel was on and off. Throughout the first half there were so many flashbacks that I feel didn’t carry enough weight. They usually related to something that had just happened or was about to happen, but I think the book would have actually been a bit better if some were taken out. They helped to explain things a little more, but I still feel that some of them weren’t important enough. However, this opinion could easily be clouded by the fact that I thought Belly was ten times more annoying in flashbacks than she was in the current day.
All in all, when all that snow starts to melt, or if it’s the middle of winter and you want to be transported back to those warm sunny days), then you need to pick up The Summer I Turned Pretty. Jenny Han is an absolute goddess of writing and will transport you there in an instant. This novel is so wroth the read and you should pick it up whenever you get the chance.