Title: It’s Not Summer Without You
Author: Jenny Han
Series: Summer #2
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 27, 2010
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 2 stars
Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach?
It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come.
But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started–at Cousins Beach.
“He kissed like he was drowning and I was air.”
Remember that time I said The Summer I Turned Pretty was one of the better contemporaries I had read in my short time reading contemporaries? It’s Not Summer Without You doesn’t exactly fall into that category. At all. I finished it three days ago and I’m still kind of frustrated thinking about it. I was never sure if ‘second book syndrome’ was truly a thing, but after reading this I think it might be.
Belly. Oh, Belly. I know this girl is sixteen going on seventeen but oh, Belly. There are so many instances where I wanted to transport myself into the book and say, “ok you cannot be that selfish. It is not possible.” No joke, her only characteristic is selfishness. She made every single thing in this book about herself as if there weren’t some incredibly sad and depressing life event that had occurred two months before the timeline of the book began. I am fully aware that everyone deals with grief in their own ways – because yes, Belly lost someone important to her as well – but there are some lines that just cannot be crossed. At one point she cursed out Conrad at his own mother’s funeral and later, stole a necklace that she assumed belonged to her. She’s also the worst best friend. Taylor may not be friend of the year, but she deserves better than being stuck dealing with Belly.
Conrad and Jeremiah are still wonderful. It was good seeing the different ways in which they dealt with their grief because they seemed to stay true to the characters that we had come to know in The Summer I Turned Pretty. At first it was nice how we were given chapters with Jeremiah’s point of view in order to get into his head a little bit until you see that the majority of them were, “screw Conrad, he doesn’t deserve her” because I’m sitting here ready to yell to the heavens that she doesn’t deserve either of them. They’re both still great and deserve all the nice and beautiful things in the world that aren’t Belly and I’ll be sitting here waiting impatiently for them to come to that realization (even though hello this trilogy is about Belly so obviously that’s never going to happen).
The plot was alright I guess. It didn’t seem as genuine as The Summer I Turned Pretty. It was lacking and didn’t do anything special for me. The ending had me rolling my eyes going “oh great, please just go out there and spread your selfishness to hurt people even more why don’t you” because the ending of this book doesn’t match up with what everyone knows is going to be the ending of the last book.
“That’s when I finally got it. I finally understood. It wasn’t the thought that counted. It was the actual execution that mattered, the showing up for somebody.”
One of the saving graces of this book was the writing. Of all the things that I didn’t like about this book, at least the writing was decent. I’ve said before that Jenny Han is a great writer. Everything she says is clear and concise and leaves no unnecessary questions in the air. You know what’s happening, you know what each character is thinking and I think that served the novel well because contemporaries aren’t exactly the kind of book where you want to be spending its length questioning the little, unclear things.
I hadn’t read that many books in between The Summer I Turned Pretty and It’s Not Summer Without You so it was easy to go into the second one knowing exactly what had happened the summer before and understand what was happening in the current summer. However if you had read these one per year as they came out, I don’t think it would be so easy to pick it back up without being a little confused. It seems like this trilogy is one that should be read one after the other, but I’ll come to a solid conclusion once I get into the third one (which might take me a while to be honest because wow I need a moment before reading about Belly’s dramatic life again).
The book took place over six days (although that sixth day was pretty much one chapter so it was move like five days). The pacing was decent enough but I feel like a lot happened in those six days. Every time I arrived on a chapter and the date was mentioned I kind of thought, “wait, all of that happened in one day?” but I think the flashbacks might have led to that confusion. There were flashbacks again, but it wasn’t overkill like in The Summer I Turned Pretty so I appreciated that. This time the flashbacks felt vital to the plot and the pacing of the novel and again wove in well with what was occurring in the lives of the characters.
To be honest, if you read the first one and want to continue, don’t. I know saying that is hypocritical because I’m going to read the last one, but I’ve already put myself through this one (and bought the last one on BookOutlet last year) so I may as well find out who she ends up with. But if all you’ve read was the first one and were satisfied with it, stop there. You’ll be living in a much more enjoyable world.