Monday, September 16, 2013

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han Review

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR
Publish Date: May 5, 2009
276 Pages
Source: Bought
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


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. (from Goodreads) 

The Summer I Turned Pretty 
by Jenny Han

My Thoughts:  I DON'T KNOW WHY I SAT ON THIS BOOK FOR SO LONG. I mean, I've seen Ginger from GReads! talk about her love for this series over and and over. Ginger may not know this, but she is actually the reason why I bought the whole series (she's the reason why I read a lot of the books I do) but then I was fortunate enough to have the series signed which is so awesome because, you guys, Jenny Han is so super cute and nice and it was enough to make me fangirl after having read only one of her books at the time.  

I can feel myself fangirling right now and I need to kind of check myself. 
Hang on. Deep breath...

So when I started this book, I WAS SO EXCITED. I knew almost nothing about it going into it except that I had heard there is a love triangle that might rip my heart out. Okay, see, this actually appeals to me greatly so I was super excited to dive into this one. 

OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED. 

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I know that I'm late to the party on this one, but for those of you that haven't read The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, Belly and her mom spend every summer with Jeremiah, Conrad, and their mom. It's been that way for years and there has been this wonderful sort of sibling-like friendship that has grown between these three. They're tight, but they're tight in a brother-sister way, ya know? But as life often does, things kind of change up this year when, all of a sudden, everyone has all of these feelings for one another that have deepened and things have grown a little bit awkward. 

See, Belly has always, always liked one of the brothers. She basically loves him. And the other brother has always been a better friend to her. BUT! That friend-brother has been the one that has always had feelings for Belly. It feels like Belly has maybe been oblivious to the way that friend-brother felt because she hasn't reciprocated his feelings - but this summer, she is starting to pick up on how things are. And this is how things begin to get a little awkward around the beach house. 

To add to the strain of things: Belly decides that she wants a summer boyfriend. Not a big deal, right? I mean, the brother that she wants doesn't seem to want her back and she isn't really romantically interested in the one that does. So why not have a bit of a summer fling? PLUS the brother that she wants has a fling of his own. All of this coupling off sometimes seems to affect the other brother, and sometimes it doesn't - but he's still that wonderful, perfect, best friend that he always is. UNTIL he decides to confront Belly about his true feelings for her, which takes awkward to the next level. 

Topping all of the EMOTION of this drama (which I love with all of my heart, I really do), there are some other issues going on with these families. Some real-life, big-time, life-changing things. Between the three friends: one is in the dark about everything (and it's a lot), one knows it all but is taking it as well as can be expected, and one is completely crumbling and taking it out on everyone. 

This summer is possibly the last summer that they all will be together as a group of three, since they'll be headed off for college and sports camps and whatever else - it's really important to Belly that it is a good one. But she can't really figure out what gives with her friends? When the pieces of the puzzle finally fall into place, it's way more than she anticipated and MAN OH MAN how on earth will anything ever be the same again??

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Based on this book, I just want to read the books that Ginger tells me to read from now on. The Summer I Turned Pretty is everything, everything, everything that I love about a great YA contemporary. Everything. It has the summertime and the fun that goes along with being at the beach. It has the boy you've loved forever and the heartache of finding out that he may not feel the same way about you. It has the jubilation of finding out that he may indeed feel the same way, and the nervousness you feel while you hang in the balance in the meantime. It has the pain of knowing that people you love more than yourself are hurting, and it has the happiness of celebrating life and good times with these same people. There is the bittersweet joy of making memories when you know that they may possibly be your last. There is the difficulty in making decisions that you know will devastate people you love. There is the hope that friendships are strong enough to make it through these same decisions. There is the exhale that comes at the end of the summer, knowing that everything you did affected someone else and hoping that it was all for good, hoping that you can all meet again next summer. 

You guys, I wasn't too sure about Belly in the beginning - as I figured her out, I realize that she is a young girl that is trying to figure out what who she wants in life. She thinks she knows - she's thought she's known for a long time - but this summer has really thrown her for a loop. She didn't come to the beach house expecting 1) Jeremiah and Conrad to treat her differently than before and 2) something to be going on with Jeremiah and Conrad that she isn't privy to. So right away, the summer starts out a little 'off' for Belly, and my heart sort of went out to her. When she decides to go her own way and try to make her own friends at the beach, it only made things worse and then things became even more confusing for her. I liked Belly, but she was not my favorite character in this book. My favorites are without-a-doubt the brothers, which shouldn't shock anyone since I tend to gravitate toward the male POV's. 

Let me make it clear that this book isn't told from the brothers' POV's, but I do tend to sympathize with the male characters for some reason, and this story was no exception. I absolutely LOVED the sibling relationship that these brothers had. It felt very real and authentic and occasionally-annoying, and I just loved it. Jeremiah is the quieter of the two, and the younger, while Conrad is more of a ladies' man. Both of them have protective feelings where Belly is concerned, and as the book progresses you can see where both of them could potentially have romantic feelings for her, although it is pretty obvious with one of them and slightly less obvious with the other. Still, they both are wonderful - it's obvious to the reader (even though Belly is oblivious) that there is something going on with these two - something has upset their world. One, more than the other, seems to be taking it quite hard and it is heartbreaking. When it finally comes out what this thing is - well, I think I was pretty broken for them by this point. And this was around the same time that Belly was very frustrated with them and she'd pretty much yelled at one of them and kind of pushed the other one away - and I just wanted to reach through the book and HUG THEM.

I have to also mention the abundance of family and friend relationships present in this book. Despite the lack of fathers at the beach house this summer, the two mothers are wonderful. Not only do they make it a loving family environment for these three young people, but these two mothers are wonderful friends and have been for years, so there is a wonderful friendship-relationship present within the beach house as well. And of course, Belly, Jeremiah, and Conrad have been friends for years as well. All of these great relationships that are present and enmeshed and intermingling are so important when everything goes down toward the end of the book. By the time my heart broke and got ripped out, I was fully invested in everyone. 

It is so hard to read two brothers with deep and awkward feelings for the same girl, you guys. That is a love triangle that is tough stuff. But I love stories like this because despite what people think - and even though people have strong feelings toward love triangles - these things do happen in real life. This book felt so plausible to me, and the emotion in the story between these three young people just gripped me and gutted me and squeezed me and it was all I could to to remind myself to take breaths. I finished this book a good while ago but I'm still thinking about it so hard and I have such a book hangover that I haven't even picked up the second book yet. I am so happy and yet so heartbroken and THIS THIS THIS is what I absolutely loved about this book so, so much. I can't even imagine what comes next in the rest of the series. All I know is that the way that I felt the entire time I was reading this book - this is why I love reading so much. 

This is a solid recommend from Ginger - one that took me entirely too long to read - one that made me love Jenny Han EVEN MORE - one that I'll be reading over and over when I'm looking for something to make me FEEL THINGS. I promise I plan to continue with the series but I'm still sitting on how much I loved this first book for a little while longer before I do. 

I recommend The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han to fans of YA Contemporary with Romance and real life issues. I recommend it to those that do not mind a really great, well-written, and believable love triangle. I recommend it to those that love books that are set at the beach. I recommend it to those that love to feel all kinds of emotions while reading because this book packs a serious punch, or at least it did for me. 

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The Summer I Turned Pretty will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary with Romance
Romance: Love Triangle, IT'S SO GOOD. 
Great Setting: Beach!

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
is currently available for purchase.

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Have you read this book yet? 

Tell me your thoughts. 
I loved it so much. SO MUCH. 



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6 comments:

  1. Well I'm gonna be the odd man out on this one (however I feel like this is happening to me more often than not). I disliked this book quite a LOT. My main problem with it was the MC Belly. Ugh. I disliked her immensely and therefore had no desire to continue on with the rest of the series. I also thought the boys were lackluster IMO. I know lots of people love and fan girl out on this series but as a fellow blogger once told me "different strokes for different folks" I guess. It didn't work for me but I'm glad to hear it worked for you!

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  2. I've been putting off this series for years because it sounds so juvenile - summer fling, love triangles? - and it really isn't my thing, but everyone loves it! I'm so glad it has your seal of approval too, Asheley, and I love a book with EMOTION, so I'll have to grab myself a copy of it soon before I can go back to doubting it. Great review, dear!

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  3. I haven't read this book as I tend to dislike triangles with brothers in them even if it's very complicated and not cut and dried. Maybe next summer I'll check it out (because they would have to be read around summertime, I feel.)

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  4. Apparently I am also a big sillyhead since I have yet to read this book and it sounds PERFECT for me. Ya contemporary, beach setting, romancey with issues - that is my kind of book completely. Excellent review, Asheley, and thanks for reminding me to pick up this book. I've had a couple of duds recently, so maybe it's about time I read something that's sure to be right up my alley. :)

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  5. I have not read this book yet myself - in fact, I hadn't even heard of it until I started blogging. I'm still easing my feet into the waters of YA contemporary fiction, so to speak. With a few exceptions, I've been reading recently published YA contemporary, but this does sound like something I should keep in mind for eventual reading. It sounds like this one worked out for you really, really well and your enthusiasm through this review is quite catching. It's always awesome when others' recommendations work out so well. Lovely review, Asheley!

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  6. I haven't read this one, but I have picked it up at the bookstore multiple times and thought about buying it. I've never been able to decide - aspects of it seem a little juvenile and I've never been crazy about love triangles involving brothers. HOWEVER, I'm pleased to see that you really loved this one. Maybe I should get it from the library and give it a shot that way! If so, I'll definitely be emailing you to discuss!

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