Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

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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 the way it should have been all along.

I think the best way to describe The Summer I Turned Pretty is that it’s a coming-of-age story. I was expecting some great summer high jinx with plenty of laughs but it’s rather the opposite.

Belly, her brother Steven and their mom, go to this beach house every summer that belongs to her mother’s best friend, Susannah. It’s been a long-lasting friendship, one that’s been through ups and downs and Belly and Steven have pretty much grown up with Susannah’s boys Jeremiah and Conrad.

When Belly arrives at the beach house, the other two boys immediately notice that she’s no longer a little girl. Belly has had a crush on Conrad for as long as she can remember but she’s always been the “little sister” to the boys. And unfortunately because she’s a girl, she’s also felt like the odd one out at times. Belly’s maturing isn’t the only change happening. Steven will be going off to college when the summer is over and Conrad has been acting strange and Susannah has been spending more time in her room. The only one who pays any attention to her and treats her normally is Jeremiah.

The story goes back and forth between present day and previous events that happened at the beach house. Belly does eventually meet another boy, Cam at a party and the two begin to hang out together. As that happens, Conrad and Belly’s relationship becomes tense and Jeremiah is left to be both the buffer and peacemaker.

The book pretty much centers on Belly and her hang up over Conrad. I found it aggravating as the reader that she didn’t pick up on some serious stuff that was hinted at that was happening with other people at the beach house. At the same time, it wasn’t her fault as everyone else felt that they had to protect Belly from what was going on – treating her like a little child, something she was anxiously trying to change.

I was able to finish The Summer I Turned Pretty in one night but at the end I felt solemn.  While it turned out to be completely different from what I thought it would be, it's still a well written story.  It’s not lighthearted because every one has to grow up really fast and face some harsh truths. In the end, it’s more than just a love story but also a story about enduring friendships and growing up.

~ Bel

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