We’ve all experienced that one summer where everything changed. It was the summer we truly started growing up. And I’m sure, for everyone, it was different from any summer before it. This is exactly what makes The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. This book is based entirely around the summer season and how it changes you – even if you don’t exactly acknowledge it.
Belly and her family have spent every summer at a beach house at Cousins Beach with her mother’s best friend Susannah and her sons – Conrad and Jeremiah. But this summer is different. This year, Belly turns sixteen; she grows up and becomes pretty. She’s not a little kid anymore and her mother and brother aren’t the only ones who notice. Conrad and Jeremiah have always seen Belly as a little sister, but this year feelings are on the rise. When they see how pretty and grown up Belly is, it’s obvious that they both feel something much different than siblinghood for her. However, for Belly, she only has eyes for Conrad – just the same as always. That is, until Belly realises just how pretty she actually is. Boys have started to notice Belly for the very first time and well, she doesn’t need Conrad the way she always has. She can stand on her own and have a social life of her own now. And this excites Belly. But how exciting will this be for Conrad and Jeremiah now that they see how much of a gem Belly truly is?
Before I read this book, I’d encountered it quite a number of times, but felt the storyline would be too boring. However, a week ago, something possessed me to pick it up and give it a try. And, boy, were my ideas about it totally and completely wrong! I fell in love with this book from the very first page. The characters are so incredibly developed and feel as if I could walk up on them walking down the street. They’re just that real. All teenage girls are like Belly – one year they really grow up and it wipes out everything that happened before then. They have their first puppy love and obsess over it until it ends. I was so in tune with Belly’s thought process throughout the book, having been a teenage girl once myself. Conrad and Jeremiah are just as real too. With Belly’s flashbacks of previous summers, it’s easy to see how each of them grew up in Cousins too and how they end up being the people they are. Conrad is quiet and hides everything with a tough exterior. Jeremiah is the exact opposite – he’s goofy and just really easy to love.
My favourite part of this book was the flashbacks. They make the story real. Without the flashbacks, it would be difficult to piece together why each character acts like they do. For example, Belly has always been left out because she was the youngest of the four children along with being the only girl. By seeing how she was left out on everything every summer, it’s easy to see why she feels so independent this summer.
Overall, I loved this book – in fact, I zoomed right through it. I couldn’t seem to put it down from the time I read the first page. It just pulls you in and is a fantastic summer read. I would recommend it for anyone age 13 and up. It’s not really racy and is a good teenage/young adult read. Also, if you enjoy The Summer I Turned Pretty, I also recommend that you continue to read the trilogy with It’s Not Summer without You and We’ll Always Have Summer. I give The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han 5 out of 5 stars.