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.
Rating: 3 Stars
Book Title: The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer #1)
Author: Jenny Han
Release Date:May 5th 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Typically this time of year I’m devouring any type of Halloween-esque book I can get my hands on: scary stories, thrillers, paranormal romance, you name it. And yet, none of the books on my shelf that fit these descriptions sound appealing to me lately! I think I’m still holding on to every last memory of this past summer, because this was one of the most memorable ones yet for me. When I finished my last read I glanced over at my shelves in search of my next one and my eyes immediately went to The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, which I owe a big thanks to Tanya @ girlsplusbooks for sending to me (along with the other two in the series).
Maybe I screwed myself by reading this book in the fall like I did, or maybe my rating would have been the same regardless. Either way, I didn’t fall for this book as much as I was hoping to. I’ve read Han’s work before and I am in love with Lara Jean and her hilarious stories in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Series. Isabel, better known by her nickname Belly, reminded me so much of Lara Jean. So why I didn’t fall in love with her like I did Lara is a complete mystery to me. Sure, I thought she was cute and I could appreciate her situation, but I’ve never understood the whole “falling for a boy and his brother” notion. So I had little sympathy for Belly as she worked her way through her feelings for both of the boys, even if it was apparent which one she was truly in love with.
o The Beach House: I did appreciate the beach house and the tradition they have every year to go there, even if it did feel a tad unrealistic. Each summer the boys’ mom and Belly and her brother’s mom took their kids to the beach house and spent the summer there. The dads never came unless they were visiting, and even before the divorce with Belly’s parents it seemed kind of odd to me that the dads were content with leaving their families for the whole summer. Either way, I thought it was neat that despite them aging and not being little kids anymore, the friendship between the four of them (and the three of them once Steven is gone) remains the same and they are able to do all of the things they did before: go to the beach, swim in the pool, and have movie nights with each other. The only aspect that changed a bit was the dynamics between them as they got older and Belly wasn’t just their “kid sister” anymore.
o Susannah: I definitely fell in love with Susannah, just like everyone else in her life does. She’s your best friend’s cool mom, the one you’re always willing to confide in and talk with about things you wouldn’t even tell your own mom. I loved the relationship between Belly and Susannah. Susannah reminded me of my own best friend’s mom and I truly think every girl needs another female figure like that in her life growing up.
Not So Favorite Bits:
o The Order of Events: Although it was my own fault for not realizing initially that the chapters were hopping around from age to age, I had a hard time understanding the order of events and what was the present story and what was Belly recalling other summers at the beach house. Even though each chapter heading mentioned what age Belly is at the time, I thought the structure of the book was a little chaotic, at best. The Summer I Turned Pretty jumped all over the place and very seldom were the transitions smooth enough between chapters for me to even realize that I was on to a new memory. It made for a confusing read at times, and I was more than frustrated as the sequence of events took off in numerous direction.