April 16, 2011

Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

The Summer I turned Pretty
At First Sight: Belly thinks of her life in terms of summers, because they mean the staying at Cousins Beach with her mom's best friend Susannah and her sons Jeremiah and Conrad. 

Every summer plays pretty much the same: the boys and her brother Steven run around and she runs after them trying to get into their fun, and when she can't, she's happy to hang around with Susannah and her mom.

Over the years, Jeremiah and Conrad have been everything to Belly - her friends, the ones helping her brother flip her into the pool, her unofficial brothers and protectors, her crushes. But Belly has always known that The One for her is Conrad- the older, moody one who sometimes got the others to include her, who once taught her how to dance, the one who sometimes seems not to care at all. 

But the summer of her sixteenth birthday, everything changes. Belly has finally grown into her looks, the kind of looks that make Jeremiah look at her twice, the kind of looks that Conrad tries but can ignore, especially after another, new guy, Cam, notices them too and shifts everything off balance. 

But, in the end, that turns out to be the least of all changes that summer, as something sad is brewing in the background.

Second Glance: I'm going to come right out and say it: For me, this book didn't live up to the hype. I agree that the writing is so good and that really puts you there, in that summer house at a moment when everything is changing... but I also found the narrative rambling and aimless at times. 

I felt like nothing really happened in the book - the first half is just Belly remembering past summers that marked her relationships with both Jeremiah and Conrad - though things did pick up once Cam showed up, but in the end he was rather inconsequential. And when I got to the end, well, I would say it was cliffhanger-y, only that I also felt like nothing had really happened through the story.

For the characters themselves, well, Belly was likable enough if a bit self-absorbed (but nothing out of the ordinary for a teenager), Jeremiah and Conrad were OK, but I didn't swoon over either of them. And the moms seemed to be just there, in the background most of the time, and even if you can tell something is going on, and that you ought to be paying attention to that, Belly doesn't so you don't either, even if you guess what's going on before the end.

Bottom Line: Over all, I think The Summer I Turned Pretty is a very good summer read, but I kept wanting more and I didn't get it. At some points, though, Jenny Han hit these passages and did put me there and it was great, it just didn't happen as often as I hoped for. 

Favorite Quote: "The problem was, I didn't entirely know. I guessed it was mostly the way he was making me feel all mixed-up inside. Being nice to me one minute and cold the next. He made me remember things I didn't want to remember. Not now. Things were really going well with Cam, but every time I thought I Was sure about him, Conrad would look at me a certain way, or twirl me, or call me Bells, and it all went to crap."

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