Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Posted July 13, 2016 by Bekka in book review / 1 Comment

Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny HanThe Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Series: Summer #1
Published by S&S Books For Young Readers on May 5th, 2009
Genres: contemporary
Pages: 276
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

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 terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

I’m not really the type of person to pick up a “beach read” just because it’s summer. But for some reason, I just felt compelled by this cover and had to have it. You all know I’m not the biggest contemporary romance reader, but something light and summery was just what I needed this week. The Summer I Turned Pretty was highly emotional but also fun and didn’t take a lot of brain power to read, so I’m very happy I decided to step out of my comfort zone a little bit.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed the reading experience. Belly’s life is all about boys and tanning and the beach, and having that mindless kind of drama to fixate on was the perfect kind of brain candy for me. There’s something to addictive about contemporary love triangles, too. I just feed on them. Like the Famous in Love series. Not a lot of substance but a ton of sugar and a ton of fun. Belly was also kind of innocent and naive, which is a departure from the types of main characters I normally read about. Watching her navigate first dates and first kisses and exploring the world of parties and flirting also felt authentic to me. Not something I can quite relate to right now, but I think we’ve all been there at one point or another.

However, Belly’s naivete also made her quite the selfish heroine to read about. It’s very obvious from the beginning that something serious is happening with her summer family. There are a lot of signs, like Susannah always being tired, Conrad being moody, or the fact that Mr. Fisher didn’t show up at the time he has for sixteen summers past. There are just clues punctuating almost every chapter Belly is inside the summer house, but it never penetrates her boy-crazy fog. And while I guess that could ring true for other people, all it did for me was frustrate me. I just couldn’t deal with Belly being so caught up in herself when it’s clear to the reader that the people around Belly are in a lot of pain.

Belly’s selfishness and immaturity are why I couldn’t love this book (coupled with the less than stellar writing. Actually, the writing was also very frustrating and repetitive and very showy but I’m too tired to get into that right now.) I think this is actually because of our age difference – my life is so far removed from that of a 15 year old boy-crazy teenager and I just couldn’t relate to a lot of Belly’s back-and-forth with the boys. While I love love-triangles, like I said earlier, and I’ll definitely be continuing the series to find out what happens and who she ultimately picks, this just wasn’t a favorite of mine.

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One response to “Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever read any of those summer-y ‘beach’ reads other than Since You’ve Been Gone (if that even counts). And I haven’t even read anything by Jenny Han yet! It sounds like a decent book, but I’m not sure if I’m all that interested :/ Great review nonetheless!

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