Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Title: The Summer I Turned Pretty 
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon and Schuster BFYR
Release Date: May 5, 2009
Pages: 276 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: book trailer | author website

When each summer begins, Belly leaves her school life behind and escapes to Cousins Beach, the place she had spent every summer of her life. Not only does the beach house mean home away from home, bu her favorite people are there: Susannah, her mother's best friend, and her sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. Belly has been chasing Conrad for as long as she can remember, and more than anything, she hopes this summer will be different. Despite distractions from a new guy named Cam and lingering looks from Conrad's brother, Belly's heart belongs to Conrad. Will he offer his to her? Will this be the summer that changes everything?


The first time I came across this series was when one of the bloggers I follow reviewed the final book of the trilogy, We'll Always Have Summer. Gazing at the three covers of the series, my immediate reaction was "Oh God my heart, wait those are the heartstrings not heartburn, but either way Oh God my heart." With summer rapidly approaching and me being in a terrible mood because of various things, it seemed like the perfect time to indulge in some fluff. I just wished the content could have pulled at my heartstrings the way the covers can.

I've got to hand it to Han: she wrote Belly's nostalgia for summers past and present well. She's able to tap into our own memories of summers long gone and wrap us up in Belly's world. Neither the characters nor plot were strong enough to carry the novel and give it pacing, but relaxed prose and a series of events you can't help but smile at as you follow them keep you reading. In fact, Han is so good at what she does that it took me three-fourths of the novel to realize that Belly is an immature brat who doesn't get nearly as much character development as she needs. She lost me as soon as she called her best friend a slut.

Though Conrad has his nice moments, I have no idea what Belly sees in him. He's a jerk, plain and simple. A jerk of a boy I went to school with until ninth grade had his nice moments too, but he was still a jerk to me overall and I still wanted to kick him in the shins. Conrad isn't any different in my eyes. His brother Jeremiah and Belly's "boyfriend" Cam were more likable as love interests and they deserved better treatment than they got.

The teenage characters could have used some more work, but the bond between the kids' mothers was pitch perfect on every note. The way they interacted with one another when their scenes played out and even when they were off-screen doing various things we only learn about close to the end of the novel, the friendship they have and the loyalty they show one another is more interesting than any of Belly's adventures in Boyland. I hope I can have a Susannah to my Laurel when I'm that old (only without any cancer or divorce involved).

The next two books sound more interesting, so who knows? I may read them, I may not. It depends on my mood and how much I need a dose of nostalgic memories of summer. For that much, The Summer I Turned Pretty is a great choice for a beginning-of-summer read.

3 stars!

What am I reading next?: Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

1 comment:

  1. I've been curious about this series since it came out, but haven't quite got to the point of picking up a copy. I like the idea behind the title, though.

    Glad to hear you enjoyed it, even if Cam left a lot to be desired.


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