Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

I originally rated this 4.5 stars but have since retroactively decided that 4 stars better reflect my feelings.

Publication Date: January 1, 2009

Belly and her family have spent every summer at Cousins Beach with her mother's best friend and her sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. And for as long as she can remember, Belly has been in love with Conrad.

But this summer, Conrad isn't the only guy in her life. A new guy, Cam, comes along, distracting Belly, while Jeremiah casts lingering glances her way. But Belly's heart belongs to Conrad. The only question is, does his heart belong to her?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Whenever someone talks about YA contemporary, Jenny Han's name is bound to pop up at some point. Lots of people talk about how great her stories are and how much fun they are to read, and I could not agree more.

I think I first heard about this on Regan's channel a couple of years ago. She was talking about how she read this trilogy during summer and absolutely loved it. The way she raved about Jenny Han and the Summer trilogy made me want to read it, so I ordered the box set. Then I proceeded to leave it on my bookshelf for over a year before picking it up during #BookTubeAThon this year.

I went into this knowing that while there was a lot of hype surrounding the book, there were also people out there who thought that the characters and the plot were immature. I had prepared myself in the event that I didn't like the series, but those worries fell away when I read the first 210 pages in one night. I was even sitting in front of my computer! I became so invested in the story and already knew who I wanted Belly to end up with, before I even got to the midway point of the book.

There's something about books that take places over the summer, at beaches, that just make you feel happy. This book spans an entire summer and all the events take place at Cousins Beach, which I initially misunderstood as a beach belonging to their cousins. I was wrong about that, it's just the name of the beach. And oh my gosh, what a lovely beach it sounds like too! I haven't been to many beaches that can be labeled as beautiful or gorgeous. In fact, I can only think of 3 beaches that I've visited in my entire life that would fit that label. But Cousins Beach sounded so beautiful, with soft sand, beachy sunsets and sunrises, a pier to walk along, and beach houses galore.

The setting wasn't the only thing that hooked me from the beginning. It was partly the first sentence, and also partly the premise of the book. I burst into laughter when I read the first sentence and had to run out to tell my sister about it, just because I wanted to share it with someone. She didn't care and I went back to reading, but still, the first line had already hooked me. And despite the fact that I actually refused to find out more about the book besides the fact that it takes place at the beach and involves a love triangle having to do with brothers, I found that it didn't take long for me to be in a place where I had to keep turning the page and reading on to find out what would happen next with Belly's love life. I pretty much flew through the book and finished the entire thing in a span of about 14 hours, including me going to bed in between.

Originally, I was only going to rate the book as 4 stars, but something in the last 60 pages made me give it another .5 stars. I won't tell you what it is, just that I didn't see it coming and it had a certain effect on me. That last scene was what made me say, "I need to continue on with this series, no matter what. I need to know what will happen."

I liked the way things ended. Everything was set up quite nicely for the next book, and I knew that this would be a series that I could continue with relatively soon. I think that the sequel, It's Not Summer Without You, will be the book I pick up after I finish my next 3 TBR books. I would pick it up sooner, but I promised a friend that I would read Eleanor & Park, and I also have a review book to read, along with finally picking up The Two Towers and reading it so that my friend can borrow it from me. I don't even know where I'm going with this paragraph anymore, but the final point is that I will be continuing with the series and finishing it within the next couple of months.

PS: I know who I want Belly to end up with

I think that one of the biggest problems people have had with the book, is Belly. People think that she's immature and get annoyed with her behavior, which is completely understandable. But considering that Belly goes into this book at age 15, I think we can all say that she's not necessarily that bad. I mean, how many of us were really that mature when we were 15? Okay, so some of us (like myself) were always more mature for our age and never acted like that, but we've all seen our friends act like that at some point, regardless of age. I think that Belly's reactions were appropriate for a 15 year old, though she did get more easily upset than I initially expected. Even then, I thought she was fairly likable.

I didn't like Conrad very much at the beginning, and even though I began to like him a little more near the end of the book, I still didn't find that I preferred Jeremiah over him. I understood why he acted the way he did, and I felt for him, but there were some points where I thought that he took it too far. Realistically, there are people who would act like him, or even be worse, so I admired that Jenny Han made his actions so realistic, but it did put me off from liking him and seeing what it was that Belly loved so much about Conrad.

I thought Jeremiah was a sweetheart. He's the type of guy I would sooner have a crush on than I would Conrad. Jeremiah is trustworthy, kind, gentlemanly, and such a nice guy in general. There were points in the book where I just wanted to hug him and tell him that it was okay. I wanted to let him know that even if Belly didn't reciprocate his feelings, I would be there for him and love him the way she wouldn't. Honestly, if I met a guy like Jeremiah in real life, we would probably be really good friends and I'd end up having a massive crush on him.

4 stars and highly recommended if you're looking for a contemporary to check out. You guys should all read this at some point, though I do think that it's possible that you'll find this too immature if you're college-aged or working. Some of you might even feel that way as high school seniors, but if you like contemporary, then you HAVE to read this. I think Jenny Han is a fantastic contemporary writer, and I'm super excited to continue on with the rest of her writing.

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