Date Released: May 05, 2009
Published by: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: Hardcover, 276 pages
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 wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.
Synopsis via Goodreads
In The Summer I Turned Pretty, Jenny Han introduces us to Belly, a girl who measures her life by summers, the year she turned sixteen.
This summer was different. Belly finally started to see herself as pretty despite having a best friend who all the guys spent an extra beat on and filling up a little more then she was comfortable with up top and not being a short-short wearing girl. At times, Belly struggled to keep her voice steady and prove she wasn't the tattle-tale little girl anymore even when her emotions betrayed her. She definitely wasn't a flat character who wandered aimlessly. While some of Belly's choices made me cringe, her reasoning was usually apparent in the aftermath. After all, she is just coming-of-age.
Conrad, almost two years Belly's senior, the oldest of the two summer boys, was the object of Belly's affection. Dark, brooding, and good at everything. This summer, not fitting the mold for a popular teenage heart-throb, deeper things helped make his attitude and personality almost unrecognizable to Belly. What Belly thought was growing pains and a struggle of feelings for her went way beyond what was expected of typical bad boy behavior leaving Belly confused and hurt.
Jeremiah, a year older then Belly and her best friend, battled some of the same emotional difficulties even if it was sadly overlooked by Belly who was more focused on Conrad and the boy she met at the bonfire, the one who liked her before she was pretty. To her defense, unlike Conrad, Jeremiah put forth the smiles and tried to ignore the facts of life that plagued the brothers and their mother, Susannah, and ultimately those who spent their summers in the summer house.
Even slightly stressed and still a little awkward, the story was lighthearted at the beginning and took me back to a time that everything sounded and looked so much better in my head then they did out loud and put in front of me. It was easy for me to become discretely emotionally vested into this summer based story. Unfortunately, for Belly and the others in the summer house, their favorite summer becomes tarnished with the harsh truths of life and by the secret the summer friends harbored. The biggest, most life-changing secret of all, was the one secret Belly didn't know and in turn aged her more then any one girl should be aged during the summer she turned pretty.
In this quick summer read the characters grew, emotions were raw and tested, feelings were laid on the table, and trust, loyalty and strength became huge players in this story. Despite feelings that were there or weren't, Belly, Conrad and Jeremiah pushed them all aside in the end to address the truths before them. They finally understood each other and could push forward together.
After much anticipation, being drawn into a cover which just made me feel oddly at peace, even with the obvious triangle formation on the front, the book roped me and met my expectations and then some. Never having seen this cover or having read the synopsis did I anticipate minor eye leakage, but like I said, this book discretely pulled me in until I was vested and felt like I was in the house with Belly, the mom-units and the boys. I could feel the sand between my toes, feel the heart ache of never having my first love, and the nostalgia of everything summer stood for when I was growing up.
I can't wait until I come across 'It's Not Summer Without You,' the second in Belly's series. Although, this time I will have the tissues handy, just in case.