In my post yesterday, I mentioned that I’ve been reading as many summery novels as I can find. Naturally, I had to check out Jenny Han’s popular “Summer” books about three teenagers who spend each summer together at a beach house.
I realize I’m probably the last person on the planet to read this series, and I blew through all three books in 24 hours, so I understand why people find them so unputdownable—there’s just something about these books that make you want to keep on reading.
(Incidentally, since this is a series review, I’m going to be intentionally vague, so as to not ruin the books.)
In the first book, The Summer I Turned Pretty, Belly (Isabelle) returns with her mother and brother to Cousins Beach, where their family friends own a beach house. Now that she’s older, and as the title implies, prettier, she’s hoping to capture the attention of her long-term crush, Conrad, the eldest son of her mom’s best friend, Susannah. She’s also excited to reconnect with her good friend, Conrad’s younger brother, Jeremiah.
I’d nursed a crush on Conrad for whole school years. I could survive for months, years, on a crush. It was like food. It could sustain me. If Conrad was mine, there was no way I’d break up with him over a summer—or a school year, for that matter.
The Summer I Turned Pretty is the novel in the series I connected with the most.
One of the wonderful things about the Summer books is that they feel very timeless. A lot of books featuring teen characters read in a way that I often wonder if they’ll be dated rather quickly. These books, and particularly the first one, made me feel nostalgic for summer fun as a teenager (and I hated being a teenager!). While I never was so lucky as to spend entire summers at the beach (that’s pretty much my dream), the sense of summer, where the days drift away amidst sun and sand was really wonderful.
I was sitting on the La-Z-Boy reading Emma—mostly because I thought it made me look smart, not really because I enjoyed it. If I was reading for real, I would be locked in my room with Flowers in the Attic or something and not Jane Austen.
One of my favorite aspects of The Summer I Turned Pretty are the flashbacks relating the backstory and dynamics between the characters. We see them as kids each summer and how the dynamics between these “summer friends” evolved. Being the youngest, Belly is always hoping to be included with the boys, but often finding herself left out, pining away for Conrad.
And this is the point at which I’m morally obligated to disclose something about the Summer books: there’s a love triangle.