One staple of contemporary young adult literature is the beach setting. Jenny Han makes great use of the beach setting in her novel, The Summer I Turned Pretty, which explores the changes that come with adolescence and young love.
Every summer Belly and her family stay at her mom’s best friend Susannah’s beach house at Cousins Beach. Susannah has two sons around Belly’s age – Conrad and Jeremiah. Belly has always had a little crush, or to be more accurate been in love, with Conrad. This year, Jeremiah is vying for Belly’s attention as well. Previously Belly had never caught Conrad’s eye, but this year is different because Belly has grown up physically and is finally pretty.
The Summer I Turned Pretty is perfect for Sarah Dessen fans who have already read through Dessen’s back list and want something in a similar vein. Han’s book treads the line between heavy and lighthearted perfectly, with big issues but nothing that is overwhelming. There’s divorce, crushes, illness, all parsed out in manageable doses throughout the plot, in a way that feels true to life.
The romance in The Summer I Turned Pretty is expertly crafted. While Han gives the reader a love triangle, I felt as though either guy could be the ‘winner’, both have great qualities and annoying qualities. Conrad and Jeremiah are well drawn with three dimensional, realistic personalities, so one can absolutely see Belly’s dilemma. There is Conrad who is incredibly good looking and soulful, who acted as Belly’s defender when she was young. Then there is Jeremiah who is thoughtful, funny and kind. It is quite a hard choice to make.
As a character, Belly is easy to identify with. Who hasn’t had a childhood crush and went for what I consider, the wrong guy? Of course Belly makes some interesting choices that I might not always agree with, like dating someone who is NOT one of the brothers, but straight up, I liked her. I liked that she went for midnight swims, too. I just wish that she had more meaningful female friendships within the book.
I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. There is a reason that it and it’s sequels are darlings of contemporary-loving readers. The Summer I Turner Pretty made me yearn for summers off, young love, and the beach.
Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon Vine.
Other reviews of The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han:
Kate’s Tales Of Books And Bands – “a wonderful job of mixing romance, beach scenes, some sad moments, and quite a few happy moments”
Novel Sounds – “captures the essence of summer perfectly”
Consumed By Books – “I feel conflicted about The Summer I Turned Pretty”