April 23, 2011

Book Review: We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

Summer 3
Warning: This review might contain spoilers about The Summer I Turned Pretty and It's Not Summer Without You.

At First Sight: Belly and Jeremiah have been together for two years, even attending the same college. And Belly is sure they will be together forever. And even after Jeremiah makes a mistake that shakes their relationship, she still forgives him and says yes when he asks her to marry him.

No one takes the news well, everyone saying they are too young and that if they want to live together they should just move in together and wait. But the more people oppose to the idea, the more stubborn they are about it.

So they set their minds on an end of summer wedding, at Cousins Beach, and go full steam ahead, even when the cracks in their seemingly perfect relationship begin to show. Jeremiah is always working, hardly helps with the planning, and Belly finds herself practically living with Conrad at the summer house.

Conrad has done his best to stay away from Belly these past two years, but with the end of summer approaching, Conrad can't stop thinking of the choices he made, the choices that pushed everyone to where they are now.

Second Glance: We'll Always Have Summer is the final book in the Summer Series and I was really glad we got to see a little bit of Conrad's POV in this one. I needed it. Because in the past two books I didn't find him appealing - Belly said he was, but I never saw it until I saw things from his perspective. And I was surprised at how touching it was, there were moments when Conrad really got to me, as he went through the reckoning of the things he had set in motion. I even cried a little because of him.

However, I had big problems with Jeremiah and Belly. From the beginning of the series, I found Jeremiah a little whinny, with an inferiority complex and in this book I also found him a little manipulative, and woe-is-me - which hardly makes him hero material in my book.

And Belly... Belly, Belly Belly. She lost me the second she took Jeremiah back after what he did. And for most of the book I kept thinking that she would have GREATLY benefited from a Sassy Gay Friend to jump in and tell her: "What are you doing? What-what-what are you doing? Look at your life. Look at your choices."

To talk about the ending, I'm entering a SPOILER ZONE though I'm not discussing it in detail.

SPOILER ZONE (highlight to see)

I felt cheated out of the ending. 

If I can say something about Jenny Han's writing is that she makes a point of showing rather than telling - is part of what drove me crazy during The Summer I Turned Pretty -  so I got to see all the sad, all the bad choices, all the consequences to the half cooked plans and not well thought out ideas. But when we get to the happy? It happens off the page and is vaguely summarized in two pages, and it felt like such a cop-out. 

I suffered and struggled with Belly, Conrad and Jeremiah for three books and close to 900 pages, and I never got to see them happy.


Bottom Line: I was surprised to discover how involved I was with Belly's story. One of my friends even asked me why I kept reading if it was making me so frustrated and I told her I didn't know. I still don't know, but I think that's part of the power of this story. I didn't love it, sometimes I didn't even like it, but I'm not sorry I read it, I think it's a really good read and I can see how a lot of people will love it.

Favorite Quote: "There are moments in every girl's life that are bigger than we know at the time. When you look back, you say, that was one of those life-changing, fork-in-the-road moments and I didn't even see it coming. I had now Idea. 
And there are the moments that you know are big. That whenever you do next, there will be an impact. Your life could go one of two directions. Do or die. 
This was one of those moments. Big. They didn't get much bigger than this."

"Conrad was first, and I loved him in a way that you can really only do the first time around. It's the kind of love that doesn't know better  and doesn't want to - it's dizzy and foolish and fierce. That kind of love is really a one-time-only thing."

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