April 20, 2011

Book Review: It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

Summer 2
Warning: This review might contains spoilers of The Summer I Turned Pretty.

At First Sight: A lot can happen in a year, and Belly found out the hard way. At the end of last summer, it seemed like things were finally heading in the direction Belly wanted them to: she and Conrad - the boy she had loved all her life - were kind of together, and they even shared one magical night in the winter that had Belly thinking they would be together forever.

But then Susannah - Conrad's mom and Belly's favorite person in the world - lost her battle against cancer and things got bad quick, it was all over, and she and Conrad broke up in a two part debacle that left Belly feeling sorry and ashamed.

So next summer, when Conrad's brother Jeremiah calls and asks Belly for help with finding Conrad, who had taken off from school without a word and was at risk of being expelled, Belly jumps at the chance at making things right.

Their search takes them back to Susannah's summer house in Cousin's Beach, where the three of them have no other choice but face all the things they have been running from: Susannah's memory, their grief, the memories, and their feelings for each other.

Second Glance: It's Not Summer Without You is hard to talk about without giving things away, and I hope I didn't.

I'm going to start with the good stuff and say that I definitely enjoyed this book more than I The Summer I Turned Pretty. This book has a quicker pace and a more defined narrative arch, which was a great improvement for me since I found the first book a little aimless. I think I really got a better sense of Belly this time around, as well as Jeremiah and Conrad - but more on that later.

What still didn't work so much for me was the actual relationships between Conrad, Jeremiah and Belly; I felt they expected a bit much of each other and were constantly letting each other down.  This book infuriated me so much at times, there were just so many misunderstanding and near misses, and it was a little heartbreaking how things happened.

Belly and her not entirely thought out choices frustrated me a little but I also got to know her better that way. Same with Conrad and Jeremiah, but I still remain unimpressed by either of them. Jeremiah seems a little, well both like he's always trying to please and expects people to know and give him what he wants without him actually asking for it most of the time, and then he complains when he doesn't get it. And Conrad, maybe I'm just too practical but not even at sixteen I found moody, unreliable boys attractive.

Bottom Line: I definitely liked It's Not Summer Without You, it was a more dynamic read, and though I wasn't completely happy with where everyone ended up, I'm reading the last book - We'll Always Have Summer - right away, because I'm intrigued to see how it all ends.

Favorite Quote: "I didn’t get home that night until after midnight. We stopped and got dinner at a diner off the highway. I ordered pancakes and french fries, and he paid. When I got home, my mother was so mad. But I didn’t regret it. I never regretted it, not for one second. How do you regret one of the best nights of your entire life? You don’t. You remember every word, every look. Even when it hurts, you still remember."

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