After loving Jenny Han’s duology which consists of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You (both of which I’ve reviewed and you can read here and here) I’ve been eager to read anything else that she’s written because I just adore her writing style. The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first book in a trilogy that was published prior to To All the Boys. I added the first book to my TBR pile for BookTube-A-Thon and it ended up being the last book I read to complete the readathon. If you’re looking to buy your own copies, I HIGHLY suggest the UK editions on Book Depository because the US covers are just plain awful. I read that Jenny Han’s inspiration for writing this book is that one magical summer when you start noticing guys and they start noticing you back and it feels like everything is changing.
Usually I don’t start a review off with a gripe, but I really disliked the main character’s nickname. Her given name is Isabel and everyone calls her Belly (ugh). Getting past that, I did really enjoy the story. Belly spends every summer in a beach community named Cousins along with her mom, brother Stephen, her mom’s best friend Susanna and her sons Conrad and Jeremiah. Belly has always had a major crush on the older brother Conrad but she’s always been seen as the little sister and no one had ever really taken her seriously until that one pivotal summer. Belly’s brother has to leave their summer house after only a week and Belly is able to grow a lot without him hindering her spirit. I do think Belly is immature but I think a lot of people can relate to her desire to fit in and be seen as an equal.
What I loved most about this book is that each chapter jumped between the current summer and one from the past. I loved experiencing Belly’s past memories in the present tense and it really enhanced her story and showed all of the growth her character has undergone. The primary plot is typical of contemporary as it revolves around Belly’s interactions with three guys but it’s the secondary plot involving Susanna and Belly’s mother that really pulled at my heartstrings. To be honest, when I had heard this book described as having a sibling love triangle, I was REALLY worried but I ended up enjoying it because Han crafted a believable summer romance story.
Final Thoughts: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han is the first light and fun contemporary novel in a The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy. It’s perfect for beach reading or for getting yourself into the mindset of summer. The main character’s desire to fit in is something that most readers will be able to relate to and both the primary and secondary plotlines will keep the pages turning. While I did not enjoy this book as much as Jenny Han’s duology, I will be continuing on with the series.
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. (via Goodreads)