Review: It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

Publication Date: January 1, 2010

For the first time in almost seventeen years, Belly's summer is completely different. This year, she's not at Cousins Beach. She's at home, trying to move past the short-lived relationship she had with Conrad.

With summer plans of parties, tanning, and flirting with cute boys - courtesy of her best friend, Taylor - Belly should have no problem getting through summer.

Then Jeremiah calls with news that Conrad disappeared. And suddenly, everything leads back to Cousins Beach and her first love.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

So this book picks up about a year after the first book ended. The two things we learn from the first chapter are that the big reveal at the end of book 1 has changed and affected everyone is a really big way, and that Belly's relationship status isn't the same as it was when the first book ended. The reason why I'm choosing to describe it like that is that, despite the synopsis already spoiling one of those two things, the big reveal is something I'd prefer not say so openly in fear of spoiling someone who is reading this review and hasn't read the first book. If that's the case, please go read the first book and then come back to this. You have no idea how hard it is to write a spoiler-free review of a sequel in a series.

As you can tell from the synopsis, Belly and Conrad had a really short relationship, though I'm not really sure that's what I'd call it. It sounds more like a fling to me, but that's just my opinion. The reason why it's in the synopsis is because being in a relationship with Conrad is huge for Belly, she's been in love with the guy for years and then they had a relationship that quickly died. What's the point in me bringing this up? I don't like their relationship. I didn't like the way Conrad treated her, and I've never really liked him all that much (something I'll dive deeper into in the "Character" section). Their relationship, even before it was romantic, always felt so one-sided and frustrating because of Conrad. Looking at it objectively, I could see why it didn't work out. And honestly, I just felt like this was a really good example of how NOT to act in a relationship.

Something changes in this book and we get two different perspectives. Obviously, the first perspective is Belly's, but I won't say just who the second perspective is. What I will say is that I really enjoyed having another perspective and the insight it gave me into both the character and the storyline. Though their voices did feel similar and I had trouble telling them apart in a number of chapters, I rather liked having this book being told from two separate perspectives.

Then we move on to Conrad's big disappearance, which I still feel was a childish act. I don't care what came of it and how it affected the storyline in the second half of the book, it was a very immature thing to do. I spent more time being annoyed that Conrad was being such a child than I did appreciating the moments when he was being scolded by various people. It may sound harsh, but having an 18 year-old boy run away and hide like a 5 year-old totally accomplished the purpose of showing us how badly Conrad deals with negative things.

Which leads us quite nicely into how Belly sees Conrad. Granted, she's been in love with him for almost half her life, but dang, her vision is so clouded by that. The person Belly sees is entirely different from the person I saw. I'm sure it was intended that way too, just to emphasize how emotions and feelings often cloud our judgement and perception of not only a situation, but a person. Belly held Conrad on this pedestal that was impossible to reach, and he didn't deserve it.

The love triangle presented to us continues to remain true, and I'm still sticking with my opinion of who Belly should end up with. I already figured it out really early on in the first book, and I highly doubt that anything will change my decision. However, I do think that the way the love triangle is set up makes it a little unfair. Instead of having a level playing field, the game is heavily favored toward one character. But that being said, I don't think Belly is going to end up with the person I want for her (or potentially myself), just with how the books are going and the direction the romances lean toward.

Belly and Conrad being annoying are the reason why this isn't a 5 star book for me. I couldn't stand how annoying Conrad was, and Belly hasn't grown up that much since we last saw here a year ago. Sure, she's still kind of young, but she's almost 17 and still acting the way she did when she was 15. It created a bit of a disconnect for me because I can't stand immature characters, especially when they're around my age or older, because I expect them to actually act their age.

The conclusion was well written, satisfying us and at the same time making us really want to pick up the next book. I thought that everything would have ended without too much drama, but then Jenny Han served me with the hook that almost made me want to ditch my TBR (for the #SlayThatSeries read-a-thon that I'm currently participating in) and pick up the final book immediately. I might end up doing that if I have time to spare after finishing my TBR for the read-a-thon because I really want to know how things end and if my ship will sail or sink.

Belly means well with a lot of the things she does, but I find her to be a little too naive for her age. There's a very childish air to the way she behaves and conducts herself, though I'm not entirely sure where it comes from. If I remember correctly, she's the youngest among the 4 kids mentioned in the series, which could explain her behavior. That being said, I find her to be more annoying than I'd like in a main character, especially since we have to read from her perspective. It's very obvious that all of her judgement is clouded because of her feelings towards Conrad, even though there's no proper reason for her to have feelings for him in the first place, at least in my opinion. I guess it's just true that love makes you (really) blind.

If I had a friend like Conrad in real life, I think I would have given him a brutally honest lecture and told him to grow up. To be honest, I might not even be friends with a guy like him because I can't stand the way he treats people and situations. One moment he's nice, the next he's being intentionally hurtful because he doesn't want to be honest. Whether or not he's hurting doesn't give him an excuse to be so two-faced all the time.

Jeremiah is still the sweetheart that I want in my life. I wish I had a friend like him. While he can easily come off as the typical nice guy, I see a lot more to him than just that. He has a protector quality about him that I don't see very often in the typical fictional (or real) nice guy, which just makes me more attracted to him. If I had a guy like Jeremiah in my life, I don't think it would take me very long to fall for him. He's just great in so many ways.

4.5 stars. If you read the first book and weren't sure if you want to continue on with the trilogy, I would recommend picking up this book. It was a pretty fast read and enjoyable despite my annoyance at Conrad and Belly. If you haven't started the series, I think it's something you should check out. Perhaps not if you're in college because the characters might seem too juvenile, but if you're okay with that, the trilogy is fairly entertaining and will make you long for summer and the beach.

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