Belly lives for summer. Every year, she spends three months with her mom, brother, her mom’s best friend and her two boys. They have done so since before Belly was born. It’s not without its down side: being marginalized just because you are the youngest, the only girl in a beach house full of boys, is no fun. You aren’t included in their adventures, they tease you and they mock you whenever you get upset. And even when you threaten to tattle, that turns into a rallying cry with the boys. Don’t. Be. A. Baby.
This summer, it’s different. The looks from Conrad and Jeremiah that Belly gets when she gets out of the car at the beach house show that they see her in a whole different light. And since she’s loved Conrad ever since she was ten, it’s an unexpected thrill. But Conrad is gone a lot, and when he’s at the beach house, he’s a surly mess. Is this the summer that Belly lets go?
Conrad’s leaving for college in the fall, Belly’s brother, Steven, is leaving vacation early to look at colleges with their father. There’s a nostalgia in the air that, instead of bringing them closer, is pushing everyone apart. Even Conrad and Jere’s dad doesn’t come to visit. Belly always thought that Mr. Fisher and Susannah had the perfect, loving relationship. But there’s something else, like it’s the last, pure summer they’ll have together.
Though there were some unexpected twists in the story, the disconnection between each of the characters was unfortunate. Yes, I get that people tend to fall back into the same patterns (think: Thanksgiving), but wouldn’t the fact that Belly was getting older and looking more mature have changed how Conrad and Jeremiah treated her? They aren’t her brothers, and they only see her in the summer. Granted, she wasn’t the most mature girl on the planet, but I don’t think she was supposed to be. She was the girl who thought that she was finally going to get admitted to the boys club. She fell back into her patterns because nothing changed.
The whole will they/won’t they/who’s getting her vibe became tedious, too.
Belly’s mom is there, but she is mostly absent from Belly’s life that summer. While the final explanation works, I still find it hard to believe that her mom would just abandon her for the entire time, especially since it felt like this was a yearly pattern.
The story is told with some flashbacks, which worked very well with this story, though it did tend to show Belly’s immaturity at full throttle.
The Bottom Line: It’s not exactly what I expected, but was an enjoyable read. The ending, however, felt tacked on and unnecessary. And that fact that it’s a series? Seems a little much. While everyone wants to know that the couple they love are still together and loving each other, sometimes it’s best to leave well enough alone (and to the fertile minds of fan fiction writers).
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han was published May 5, 2009 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Ink and Page picked this book up from the library, so no one had a choice about whether it was reviewed.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary Romance Series
Ages:12 and up
You Might Want to Know: Some underage drinking and drug use; mild profanity, smoking