Monday, May 02, 2011
REVIEW: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Some summers are just destined to be pretty.
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 wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.
Oh wow, why why why didn't I pick this one up sooner? I knew bloggers and friends raved about The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, but for some reason, I didn't quite believe it. I thought I wouldn't like it because I don't quite like the nickname 'Belly' for absolutely anyone. And then I read it and .. wow.
Having an older brother, I was constantly chasing after him and his friends wanting to belong, much like Belly has done her entire life. Every summer since she can remember, Belly's mom takes her and Belly's older brother, Steven to the beach house, to spend the summer months with her mom's best friend Susannah and her two boys Conrad and Jeremiah.
The beach house is a kind of magical place, with the pool and the beach nearby and this wonderful atmosphere. Life only happens at the beach house to Belly. With Susannah, the mother-figure that Belly has always wanted and the boys: Conrad, aloof and quiet, and Jeremiah, happy and carefree. Belly has always looked up to Conrad and Jeremiah, wanted to be more a part of their lives as they did fun stuff, boy stuff, older stuff. And as she's gotten older, she's grown larger and larger crushes on them. And this summer is going to be different, she can just feel it.
And it is. And how wonderful it is to experience this life-changing summer! Belly tells her story with flashbacks to summers-past, of the different memories she has of growing up with Conrad and Jeremiah. The heartbreaks she suffered, the intense, emotional moments with each of them. And through this one summer, as she's nearly 16, things start to change in her relationship with both boys as they all become more aware that she's growing up and no longer the annoying tag-along. But as everyone is adjusting to how they each feel about each other, there is some fantastic tension and jealousies and a bit of heartbreak!
I really loved both boys. I can see how there could be the makings of a decent love triangle in the rest of the series between Belly and Conrad and Jeremiah, but as we see this story through Belly's eyes there's a sense that there is only one boy for her. One boy who is completely unattainable and out of her reach, or is he?
The Summer I Turned Pretty is an absolutely amazing summer story. It's about a girl growing up and falling in love and doing it all on the beach in a really relaxed environment surrounded by people who love her. I love all of the characters and I desperately want to spend more time with them. I want to be Belly and live in that beach house until forever with Conrad and Jeremiah. Let it be so. Bring on the sequel!