My first summer-fun read of the season is complete. Another charming series weaved and buried in the soft spot of our hearts. Reserved for the summer days of weightless thoughts and nostalgic teen memories, Jenny Han tells the story of fifteen-year-old Belly Conklin and her life changing summer. Belly’s annual trip with her family at Cousins beach is different this year than any other when she is reunited with the Fisher boys and their mother Susannah. It’s the first summer the Fisher boys, Conrad and Jeremiah, have noticed how attractive Belly is now that she is growing up.
The coming of age theme and focus on building everlasting relationships in this novel bring me back to when I was Belly’s age and how older boys like Conrad, who is 18, and Jeremiah, 17, start to show an interest in you (usually around 8th grade and after). Like when you had a crush on your older brother’s friend or neighbor and you want them to notice you, but somehow, they still see you as the girl they grew up with. As a young girl, it’s the giddiest and most sparkling feeling when an older boy you’ve always known begins to like you. Especially during the summer.
Belly is the typical girl next door throughout this story. She is sort of this tomboy character who is trying to keep her sense of a once shy personality at bay with her need to burst from expected demeanor and find her voice. She is immature in a large sense and rebels throughout the novel, trying to discover her emotional place among the other characters. The setting at this pleasant beach on the east coast keeps the mood soft and family detailed. Belly narrates from chapter to chapter with flashbacks, attending teenage bonfire parties, and uses the beach house itself as the central location for midnight swims and Birthday celebrations.
A teeny love triangle manifests itself in the plot when Belly is narrating her wishes of Conrad, whom she has always had a crush on, to notice her romantically. Other girls and friends get in the way and Han does a great job at creating this basic internal rivalry between Belly and her best friend, Taylor. I know females can relate to growing up with that ONE friend who was either more developed, had more confidence, was flirtier, or bolder than they were as a teen.
Belly’s personality is tough and more stubborn than other characters created by Han. For example, Lara Jean, from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Han keeps the same type of narrative I love in her books, where it just nails the inner -female voice of a humble & hopeful girl at that age. I could rather see Belly becoming good friends with someone like Kitty from the Lara Jean series.
Seemingly enough, there are two more books to this Summer Series, and somehow, despite my age, Han simply draws you into her novels. This series was published back in 2009, so it’s not like they’re new by any means, but I still can never get enough of these cute plots and themes.The latest cover art on the “Summer” series is a must have, which means I now too, must have all three. =)
If you want an easy, breezy, soft and sentimental read for the summer, you can finish The Summer I Turned Pretty in two days. If you’re like me and need your shelf to feel complete with the entire series, then just get it ALL! The Complete Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy: The Summer I Turned Pretty; It’s Not Summer Without You; We’ll Always Have Summer
“Best friends are important. They’re the closest thing to a sister you’ll ever have” – Belly, Jenny Han, The Summer I Turned Pretty
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