Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Release Date: May 5th, 2009
Some summers are just destined to be pretty
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 wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.
Every once in a while, some people find that one person who'll always carry a piece of their heart. A person who, no matter what happens, they love at the end of the day. One who sets the standard for all the rest that come after, and even then, still hold a special place in their hearts. For Belly, that person is Conrad. Dark, quiet and brooding, he's been the apple of Belly's eye since she was a child, and a reason why she looks forward to summers so much. But she was always the "little sister," and no matter how hard she tried, Conrad always saw her as that. Then one summer, things finally change. Conrad finally starts noticing her, and even Jeremiah, Conrad's younger brother and her best friend, starts treating her differently... Like a real girl. Finally, everything Belly's wanted is starting to happen, and then some. Could this be the summer that changes it all?
When I first picked up this novel, I expected it to be a light summer romance with hints of a coming-of-age novel thrown in. And while it was that, I was also very, very wrong. The Summer I Turned Pretty turned out to be so much more.
Yes, summer romance plays a huge part in the story. But that's the thing- it isn't just a summer romance. Belly's love for Conrad goes years back, and the fact that it isn't just a two- or three-month thing makes it so much more meaningful. Add Jeremiah and the smart new boy, Cam, into the picture, and things get a little more complicated, but in a good way. At times I didn't know who I was rooting for, but it worked, because it is a story of self-discovery, and each boy had a part in Belly's overall character development.
The characters are simply fantastic. The best part of the novel, inn my opinion. Each one is so distinct and multi-faceted, even the mysterious and elusive Conrad. And Belly's mom and the boys' mom, Susannah, are also charming and play important parts in the story of that summer. Han does an amazing job of utilizing all the personalities in her novel, whether primary or secondary, and it just makes the story even better.
The plot itself took me by surprise. I guessed some of what would happen, but the others, well, they took me by surprise. I did not expect to be moved by this book, but I was, and not just a little.
This isn't just a shallow story of summer flings. It's so much more than that, with the importance it gives fammily, friendship, and honesty to yourself and to others. It's so full of love, love of all kinds, and that puts it a step above all the rest of the summer romances, a lot like Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. Beautifully enchanting and fairytale-like in its ways, The Summer I Turned Pretty is a book I will definitely read again, no matter what the season.