Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
May 5, 2009; Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers


Summary

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

So many bloggers rave about Jenny Han's Summer series. After finishing The Summer I Turned Pretty, I have two questions. Why does everyone love the series? Does it get better? I liked The Summer I Turned Pretty, but it wasn't the kind of book that makes me run around screaming the title to all of my friends. What did I miss?

Belly is a controversial character. I have mixed feelings about her. Because I was seeing the world through Belly's eyes and thoughts, I sympathized with her emotions and the events going on in her life. However, she was often infuriating. Selfish, whiny, and naive. She felt younger than 15 years old. But I think that was also a factor of being the perennial little kid around her brother, Conrad, and Jeremiah. It made her seem more immature than she would at home. We get the impression that she's a smart, fun, nice girl during the school year, but she doesn't act that way at all during the summer.

I enjoyed seeing how her relationships with Conrad and Jeremiah evolved. Conrad is the moody, quiet type of guy I normally like. But there's good moody and there's annoying moody. He was annoyingly moody for almost the entire book. At the end, I started seeing why Belly adored him so much. I wish Conrad's good side had shown up a little sooner. Jeremiah is the sweet kid that everyone likes. Funny, outgoing, friendly - he is Jacob to Conrad's Edward. It's a hard choice between the two.

On the bright side, Jenny Han does a wonderful job of setting the beach town scene. I've never spent a vacation at the beach, but this is the idealized vision that I've always had of it. Warm sand, midnight swims, beach parties, lifeguarding. You can almost smell the ocean when you read this book. I also liked how serious the book was. I was expecting a light beach read, but there was a lot of drama and anguish. It isn't necessarily what I want to read on a beach, but I'm a fan of angst.

Unfortunately, the setting is the best written part of this book. Jenny spent far too much time telling us why Belly was in love with Conrad or Jeremiah and not nearly enough time showing us. I also didn't like how the flashbacks were structured. The back and forth felt so abrupt so I had literary whiplash from trying to figure out what was happening.

Overall, The Summer I Turned Pretty is an entertaining story. I was disengaged for much of the book, but it hooked me at the end when Jenny Han found her footing. I didn't love this book, but the last third made me want to continue the series.

Rating: 3 / 5

25 comments:

  1. Actually, though I've seen the raves, I've never read a Jenny Han book. (Is there a reason the girl's named "Belly"? Because that's got to be one of the top 10 worst character names ever.) I can see my romance-loving students enjoying this but I think I'll take a pass. Great review!

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  2. Excellent review! This is a really cute series. Thank you so much for sharing and adding to my TBR list! Have a great day! :)

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  3. I actually really enjoyed the book even though I agree that Belly could be whiny and immature which was very annoying! I loved the whole storyline but think it could have been explored better: it was always 'Do I like Conrad or Jeremiah?' for Belly. And the setting for the book is just AMAZING! Spending summer at the beach definitely sounds appealing :) Thanks for the review!

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  4. I adore this series. Just finished the third and last book of this series . . . there's much love for it. Anyway great review! Glad you still enjoyed the book!

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  5. I really liked this series and yes, Conrad is a jerk for most of the book but you began to understand why as the series continues, especially in book 2. I loved this series, characters, and Jenny Han's writing. I had a happy contented sigh after finishing the last book. So, yeah, give it another shot.

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  6. Hm. I've heard nothing but rave reviews about this series as well Alison, so it's interesting to read your thoughts and how they differ:) Based on Rummanah's comment though, it seems as though the books do get better and you get to understand the characters more thoroughly, so I'm still hoping to give these a try in the not-so distant future!

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  7. Hmm...I don't know. I've been considering picking up this series, but I'm still not sure if it's my thing. Thanks for the review!

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  8. This one does look cute, but I'm afraid of being disappointed after seeing so many people rave about it. I do love the title though.

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  9. OMG! Alison! I'm so galdf that you finally read this book. I lvoed it so much! I hope you keep on going, the series gets soo good!

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  10. I've been meaning to read this one. It seems good. Sorry it didn't fully work out for you though. I will probably read it in the future. Great review :)

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  11. THANK YOU! I was beginning to feel alone in being the only one to not enjoy this book.

    I, too, felt that Belly was infuriating and too immature. The magic and lovey feelings everyone else got from this just didn't transfer to me at all. But, like you said, the setting was the saving grace.

    I haven't personally bothered to continue the series, although I do own the other books. I'm afraid the rest will be more like this one.

    Great review.

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  12. I liked this series overall but I don't think it gets really better? Especially the third book. I never connected with the characters either. I agree about the telling not showing part but I liked her writing so much I overlooked it. Great, honest review!

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  13. I can't say I am eager to read this series. Just from reading your review I can tell it is a love triangle and I am so tired of those. I would like the beach setting, but that is not enough to draw me in. Thanks for your honest review, Alison.

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  14. Yeah, I don't get it either. I actually started book one a while back, after being convinced to buy the whole series, and I couldn't get past the first couple of chapters. I don't remember too much about it now, but Belly was annoying me, and I just couldn't get into the story.

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  15. I'm starting this series for my Summer TBR pile. Everyone adores it so i got hanged to it.

    Great review! =D

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  16. I picked up a copy of this book and it's sequel on sale a few months back and was going to read them, you guessed it, over the summer. That stinks that it didn't do much for you, I hope you're next read is a better fit:) Thanks for the honest review, I think it's important to get ALL opinions out there, positive and negative:)

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  18. I read so many great things about this book that i decided to read it. Grabbed it off my library shelves and after a few pages I realized I had read it already when it first came out. It obviously didn't leave a big impression on me. Good story, but forgettable....

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  19. Hmm, I'm not a huge fan of contemporary reads lately, I've heard lots, mostly great things about this one, but after reading your detailed review it might not be a good fit for my tastes.

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  20. I saw this book in the bookstore and wondered ...

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  21. I've have the suspicion that this was probably just another overly hyped book. I don't think I'll be reading it. Thanks for the review! :)

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  22. Hm hm ... I was also keeping an eye on this series for some time now, but I was never intruiged enough to pick it up. Seeing that you were not super excited, I might pass on this one.. Although, totally depends on if the series gets better ;))

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  23. I really liked this series, the first one wasn't the best but if you stick with the series until the end I think you'll be happy... well I hope you'd be happy. The summery setting was an aspect I really liked about it as well!
    Thanks for the great review.

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  24. Excellent review! Too bad it doesn't seem to be as amazing as it's hyped to be. The title really grabbed me, though. It's great that it got better towards the end and I loved how you said that the main character was probably a smart person in school but not during the summer. I might check out the series when I have the time.

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  25. Wow! Lots of comments on this one. I recently listened to all three of these books on audio and they pretty much tore my heart up. They're just so sad almost all the way through. I did like this ending, but I agree that they weren't quite as amazing as I had hoped.

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