Date Released: April 27, 2010
Published by: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: Hardcover, 288 pages
Last year, all of Belly's dreams came true and the thought of missing a summer in Cousins Beach was inconceivable. But like the rise and fall of the ocean tide, things can change--just like that. Suddenly the time she's always looked forward to most is something she dreads. And when Jeremiah calls to say Conrad has disappeared, Belly must decide how she will spend this summer: chasing after the boy she loves, or finally letting him go.
NOTE: Contains potential spoilers for The Summer I Turned Pretty, book #1.
In It's Not Summer without You, Jenny Han picked up where she left off with The Summer I Turned Pretty, the summer after all of Belly's dreams came true with Conrad, one of the boys she spent every summer with at Cousins beach, the boy she always loved, Suzannah's son.
Just like in The Summer I Turned Pretty the characters grew, emotions were raw and tested, feelings were laid on the table, and trust, loyalty and strength were huge players in this second installment of our main character's story, Belly. Only, this time many things were left unsaid, explanations not even needed and choices had to be made with extra care.
Some things in Belly, Jeremiah, and Conrad's story would and will never be the same. Summers would never be the same, they couldn't. Some things can not be undone no matter how hard anyone may wish for them to be, and this is evident in several pivotal moments within this story. Somehow, even when things seemed completely hopeless, the groups loyalty and friendship shined through, if even for just a few moments. If they couldn't have their carefree summers back the group, including Belly's mom, still tried to keep a hold on their trust in each other when they really needed it.
Typically, the second book of trilogies can go easily over looked but I actually loved this story and thought it stood out from it's predecessor. It was spot on with the emotional growth and distress with where readers of the first book would have expected it to be making it all the more heart wrenching. The changes in the point of view made it even more real, adding an additional depth to the story and to the characters.
Jeremiah is a character we really benefited from Han's writing style in this second installment. While Conrad, the eldest of the two, was the one summer boy who kept to himself and fought the internal battle of his feelings, never asking for help, Jeremiah is the one who was always the bigger mystery to me. In ways he was more reserved then Conrad, he was just better at being the boy Belly knew, putting that reassuring smile on his face. This time around, Jeremiah was able to express what really was going on in his mind, telling his own story and pulling several together.
Belly showed her true age in this book with her worries, fears, and inexperiences but at the same time she showed how much she truly did grow up. Though, I completely understand some people may be turned off by Belly's at-time bland attitude and the fact she sits perfectly between two brother's, I think it is all part of the story and adds to the charm. While her story is quite cliché I don't think it detracts from the story. Afterall, isn't most of life one big cliché?
It's Not Summer Without You is beautifully written and heart wrenching and easily ropes you in. My only qualms with this book come from the last page. The cliff hanger Jenny Han left us with is a BIG one, I'm not really sure how I'll hold out until the third installment of this story comes out but I know it tops my wishlist.
On the cover: Again, like with The Summer I Turned Pretty, the cover of It's Not Summer Without You has a calm aura about it which can pull you in if you are a sucker for having sand between your toes and obvious love triangles.
Other Books in Series: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (Summer #1)
Next In Series: We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han (Summer #3)