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Book Reviews
April 15, 2010 posted by Katie

The Summer I Turned Pretty – Jenny Han

Everything that happened this past summer, and every summer before it, has all led up to this. To now.

Every year Isabel spends a perfect summer at her family friends’ house. There’s the swimming pool at night, the private stretch of sandy beach…and the two boys. Unavailable, aloof Conrad – who she’s been in love with forever – and friendly, relaxed Jeremiah, the only one who’s every really paid her any attention.

But this year something is different. They seem to have noticed her for the first time. It’s going to be an amazing summer – and one she’ll never forget…

Isabel has been called Belly for as long as she can remember. As long as she has been coming to the beach house for summer. For her mum and Susannah are best friends, and Susannah owns the beach house. The perfect big house, the pool out the back, the beach, the sun, the surf. During the school year, Belly distracts herself thinking about summer and the beach house. It’s the place that she knows exactly what is going to happen, even if it’s not exactly what she wants to happen.

For also at the beach house is Steve, her annoying older brother, Conrad and Jeremiah, Susannah’s two sons. As much as Belly wishes they would include her, she knows it will never happen, not truly included. The only girl in a group of guys? Yea as if they would include her in their adventures. It’s something Belly has gotten used to. Just like she is used to Susannah cooking the same meal on the first night, her midnight swims and being left alone a nights.

Yet this summer, something seems different. For one, the reaction of Conrad and Jeremiah when she gets out of the car is completely not what she expected. Susannah doesn’t come to meet them, running out the door like always. The mood is different, almost as if everyone else knows something that they aren’t telling her.

Then comes the moment that she has been longing for. An invite to the bonfire that she was always considered too young to go to. It is there that she meets Cam. Cam Cameron. Someone different to everyone else. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs and can speak Latin and French, even if technically Latin is a dead language. Finally Belly meets someone that she just might be able to forget Conrad with. Someone who tells her that she is beautiful, someone who actually wants her around.

Yet as the summer draws closer to a close, will this really be enough to Belly to move on? Will she be willing to hurt those she loves, to gain what she needs most?

The Summer I Turned Pretty is the second novel from young adult writer Jenny Han, and the first of her novels that I have read. This story captured me, in a way that reminded me of my first love and my teenage years. Growing up and just waiting for the one guy to notice you. It’s a story that I think a lot of people can relate to, both young and old, either going through it currently or remembering what it was like. The Summer I Turned Pretty captures that journey and adventure to find who you are and to be seen as something different to what everyone thinks you are. Reminding me, in style, of Sarah Dessen’s novel Along For The Ride, the characters in Han’s novel are instantly ones you can recognise and connect with. The characters and their actions is what invests you in this novel. You want the best for them; you want everything to end up okay for them.

Belly is a gem. I find reflections of myself in her actions, and things that I wish I had done when I was her age. She has the strength to keep going, to try for something better because she believes the best in everyone. Her relationships with Conrad and Jeremiah and how she deals with her feelings is something that I think we all go through. The confusion of not knowing exactly what someone else thinks of you. Cam was also another breath of fresh air. I wish we had got to see even more of Cam then what was included. Susannah was the mother you wished you had, and Belly’s own mother is that of a typical mother – doing more that her daughter realised at the time.

An element that I really loved was the chance to go back in Belly’s past and see memories from previous summers, and how they created the person that Belly is now.

A beautifully light reading and feel-good novel.

Publication date: 2010

Pages: 288

Rating:: ★★★½☆

Teaser quote: When it started to get cold, I rubbed my arms, and Cam took off his hoodie and gave it to me. Which, was sort of my dream come true – getting cold and having a guy actually give you his hoodie instead of gloating over how mart he’d been to bring one.

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  • I haven’t read the book, but based on the review, I’m on Team Jeremiah!

    • I like Belly and Conrad’s relationship better than Belly and Jeremiah’s, but I like Jeremiah’s personality better than Conrad’s

  • I’m actually pretty excited about this series I was just doing some research on it a week or two ago. I am def going to have to invest in purchasing them.

  • OMG!love the teaser quote so much!!! that’s so sweet! why it only has 3.5 hearts?

    • You guys sould actually read the books, there WAY BETTER THEN THE “TEASER.”

  • I loved this book and the second one is coming out on the 27th! Its a super cute book 😀

  • The reason only 3.5 stars is how I rate books. 3 is a read I enjoyed, and easily read. To get 4, needs to be something special, new and original. To get 5, the books needs to pretty much consume me in that I think about it for a long time after finishing reading, and think about it when I am not reading it.

    • Seriously, Katie. Reread your review of this book. I would suggest a little bit of spell check, and did you even finish high school? Your use of conventions leads me to believe that the answer to that question is no.

  • I liked this book a lot. Belly has a really strong voice and i like it.

    • merp!

  • i got this book last night, and i already have it read. i adored it and loved every second of it. call it strange but im kind of in the same situation belly is with Conrad. although he is kind of confusing im on his team (:

  • *oh yea im getting the second one tomorrow. i hope there will be more 😀

  • I just finished the 2nd ook i hope there will b more!!!!

  • We Love this book we both finished it in one day well over night we are excited to read the 2nd one :)

  • I love this book sooo much but could you help me inderstand what the theme of this novel is?

  • omg this is the best book ever all the suspense it gives i totally thought their was some real chemistry with Belly and Cam but I am even more thrilled that she is with Conrad the way they describe him in the book makes me want to meet him in real life props to the author best book I’ve ever read.

    • She ends up with Conrad!!! I hope you have read the third book by now. 😀

    • did you like that she ended up with conrad?

  • I know only so far had the chance to read the first one, but i really liked it, so I’m trying to find ways to get the second and third one at the library yay ha

  • Hmmm someone email meee !!!! I need help with my book!

  • Will there be movies for the books?

  • Is the movie gunn a come out?

  • I loved these books so much!! <3 <3 i deffenetly want there to be a movie for it im one of the BIGGEST fans i loved the books to pices :) i hope there is going to be a movie for them cause i will go see it :)

  • We are a bunch of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community. Your web site provided us with helpful info to work on. You’ve performed a formidable task and our entire community can be grateful to you.

  • good book, bad review

  • i LOVED the first book and i am now reading the second book im a littel more than half way through the 2nd book and it’s just as good as the first one i cant wait the finish the books to see how it all ends.

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