Personal Thoughts: To say I’d been putting off reading We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han would be an understatement. Being my last currently published unread work of Jenny’s, I found myself unable to pick it up because I was so not ready to say goodbye to Cousins, Belly, Jere and Conrad nor to the prospect of having another book of hers to read should the mood strike. Since Always and Forever Lara Jean is releasing in just over a month, I finally decided to go for it. I can also say that my subconscious fully backs up the above reasoning because the night that I finished We’ll Always Have Summer, I had a dream that I was vacationing at Zoella’s house, eating an ice cream cone and perusing her bookshelves when I found a never before seen Jenny Han YA book (the cover had a boy and a girl laying in the grass- the girl was wearing a red polka dot dress and heart sunglasses) and I was in all my glory. Imagine the disappointment when I awoke to find that I had no ice cream, nor the new Jenny book that my mind invented to fill a deep need.
Plot Summary: I think this goes without saying but as this is the third and final book in the series, there will be spoilers ahead. We’ll Always Have Summer picks up two years after It’s Not Summer Without You ends. Belly and Jere have been dating and attending college together and Conrad’s been off at med school in California. After Belly and Jeremiah’s relationship hits a really rough patch, things between them start accelerating and then Belly must decide once and for all which brother her heart belongs to.
Critique: This book definitely won’t be for everyone. Heck, if Jenny Han hadn’t written it, chances are it that it wouldn’t have been for me either. It’s hard to get behind a series that leans on the angsty side of teen romance and who’s plot revolves around a love triangle. As if that weren’t enough, it’s a sibling love triangle to boot. But nonetheless, Jenny Han has once again gotten me invested in the characters she crafts. No matter how immature Belly may act, how self destructive Conrad can be or how possessive Jere is, I had to read their story through to the very end. There were a ton of moments where I wanted to slap each one of them, especially in this final installment, but still, I needed to know the outcome of their story. I don’t want to get into the plot of this final book because there’s an event that sets the whole thing in motion and I don’t feel right spoiling either the trigger or the actions taken afterward for you. I can tell you that this is the most satisfying conclusion I could’ve hoped for. My ship has sailed!
Do I Recommend?: I thoroughly enjoy Jenny Han’s characters and storytelling so if you’re in the same boat I would recommend you give this series a try. As I mentioned above, the Summer series revolves around a sibling love triangle for all three books so this book is definitely not for everyone.
**Warning! If you haven’t read The Summer I Turned Pretty which is the first book in the Summer trilogy by Jenny Han, there will be spoilers ahead. You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**
It’s Not Summer Without You is the second book in the Summer trilogy by Jenny Han. This book picks up almost 10 months after the events of the first book and we spend the majority of it living the current consequences resulting from past events which are often relayed via flashbacks. Your thrown into a world where many things have changed since The Summer I Turned Pretty ended and because I waited between books (it’s been almost a year since I read the first – also during BookTube-A-Thon!) I initially thought I had forgotten a major thing that happened. I really enjoyed this book, much more than the first despite how sad it is.
Belly is still immature and a bit annoying but after what happened, I felt more for her. The sibling love triangle is in full force in this book which is one of the only aspects that I really didn’t like from the first book, but I feel like it was developed more thoroughly and that it worked better in It’s Not Summer Without You. At the end of the first book Conrad and Belly appear to be living happily ever after but everything basically falls apart in this installment. We see the cruel ways Conrad has been treating Belly, his hot and cold behavior, and their awful prom experience. There’s one major factor that I do not want to spoil, but it’s a huge reason for his behavior. While it’s understandable that he would be affected by this event, he definitely uses this as a scapegoat in my opinion. Belly’s brother Steven was mostly absent from this book and her bossy best friend Taylor continually got on my nerves.
Final Thoughts: While I enjoyed It’s Not Summer Without You much more than the first book in the Summer series, it was not without its faults. This is a heartbreaking book to read but I felt that Han truly created and built upon some beautiful relationships in this installment. As I stated before, the main character, Belly, is still immature and annoying but I definitely forged more of a connection to her. I’m looking forward to reading book three (much sooner than it took me to get to this one!) and seeing how the story concludes although I am extremely worried that my ship will be sinking.
Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach?
It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come.
But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started–at Cousins Beach. ( via Goodreads)
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)