Monday, June 21, 2010

Review of The Summer I Turned Pretty

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Pages: 288
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: May 5, 2009
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."

Belly lives for summer....literally. She can't wait to spend her entire summer at her mom's best friend's beach house.  Belly and her brother, Steven, have been spending their summers down there as kids and pretty much living out kid's dream summer.  This is mostly because of Susannah's fun loving sons, Conrad and Jeremiah.  Belly has spent her summers trying to be a part of the "boys club" and their various adventures.  As they get older and become teenagers, Belly realizes that she has a crush on the one brother.  Belly knows that this is going to be the summer that changes everything and she's right.  Jenny Han's The Summer I Turned Pretty is the ultimate beach read, but it is more than just fluff. It's one of the best coming of age novels that I've read in a long time.

First of all, my feelings towards this book may be bias, because like Belly, I am a summer girl. I, too, define my life by my summers and I instantly connected with her.  I have spent many summers down the shore and often times, while reading this novel, I felt like parts of it were taken straight out of my life!  Even if you aren't a fan of "summer" novels, one cannot deny Jenny Han's brilliant writing style.  There were parts of this novel that I wanted to write down, because it truly spoke to me and was "quotable."  Here are a few:
"For me there was --is-- nothing better than walking on the beach late at night.  It feels like you could walk forever, like the whole night is yours and so is the ocean.  When you walk on the beach at night, you can say things you can't say in real life."
"After she left, after that summer, things were the same and they weren't.  She and I were still friends, but not the best friends, not like we used to be.  But we were still friends.  She'd known me my whole life.  It's hard to throw away history.  It was like you were throwing away part of yourself."
"I rolled down the window and took it all in.  The air tasted just the same, smelled just the same.  The wind making my hair feel sticky, the salty sea breeze, all of it felt just right.  Like it had been waiting for me to get there."

Brilliant, right? Not only was I mesmerized by Han and her writing style, but also her character development.  This novel is definitely character driven and Han really reels the reader in. You become invested in the characters and their situations.  Needless to say, I was impressed.  I was also impressed by her narration techniques.  She used flashbacks expertly.  I adored the glimpses into the Belly's past.  Each flashback was a memory from her summers at the beach and I was positively immersed in each one.  Yes, for the simple fact that I could personally connect to many of the memories, but also because it helped me to understand the characters even more and where they are coming from.

Belly knows her summer is going to be monumental and I know we have all had that perfect summer; the summer where everything changes. Belly wants to be known as a young adult and not just the little girl who used to tattletale and sulk in the corner because the boys weren't including her.  But with getting older comes more responsibility and the inevitable concept that change will come.  Belly realizes that things may never be as perfect as they were when she was a kid carelessly jumping over waves in the ocean or watching Susannah collect seashells.  This is the summer where Belly learns valuable life lessons and how change is a part of growing up that no one can avoid.

It's obvious that I adored this novel.  If I had it my way, there would be more hype and buzz surrounding Han and this novel!  I already bought the sequel, It's Not Summer Without You and I am dying to read it. I might save it for next weekend when I'm at the beach.  With that said, I highly recommend this novel.  It wasn't just a "beach read."  It truly made me think and reflect.  I realized that getting older is hard and brings many changes, but I look back to that one summer that changed my life and I know that those memories will stay with me forever.....just like Belly's.

*Watch the Book Trailer:


  1. I just love the sound of this, and I love your review! I've already added it to my wishlist from reading your goodreads updates.

    I live in a beach community and all my teenage years were also centered around those special summers, and I had a summer that changed everything! So, I think I will like this one. I love coming of age stories too.

    I really don't need to buy any more books right now, but I think I'll have to invest in this one!

  2. Leanna- I'm glad you are going to read it! I highly recommend it. I hear ya about not wanting to buy more books! I am in the same place, but this one was definitely a great read!

  3. i love the sound of this and im such a sucker for romance novels(in the closet) hehe

    Great review here makes me wanna go and buy this book

  4. I keep hearing such wonderful things about this book and I am interesting in it. I just love the sound of it, a perfect book for the summer. Can't wait to read it. :)

  5. Ayesha- Thank you! I appreciate it.

    Nina- It truly is the perfect summer read! Thanks for the comment!

  6. I LOVED both Summer I turned Pretty and It's Not Summer Without You. They're probably my favorite reads of the year so far. Beautiful writing. I can't wait for book three!!

  7. Gosh I love this series SO much! I definitely agree that it's more than just a summer read. Oh and the sequel is just as good maybe even better. Aww I LOVE those quotes, it makes me want to reread it. (:

  8. I LOVED this book! I'm so glad I gave it a chance! I agree, Jenny's writing is amazing. Simple, but illuminating and reflective and beautiful. I've had #2 on hold for weeks now...can't wait for it to finally come in at the library so I can indulge once more in Belly's summers. :)

  9. You are *the* summer girl. I think I am more an autumn girl. I love jumpers so summer doesn't really agree with that.
    I'm really looking forward to read this and it sounds almost a little bit of paradise.

  10. I am such a summer girl! I loved this book and read it in two days. I felt like Belly one or two times in my life, and I could so picture the house, the bedrooms, and all the characters. Thoroughly enjoyed this one and look forward to reading the other two Jenny Han books! Thank you!


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