The Summer I Turned Pretty – Jenny Han

The Summer I Turned Pretty – Jenny Han

“You said your first kiss was a boy at the beach when you were thirteen.”
“Oh.” I looked up at this face in the moonlight, and he was still smiling. “Guess.”
Immediately he said, “The older one, Conrad.”
“Why’d you guess him?”
He shrugged. “Just a feeling, the way he looks at you.”

This is my third time around reading this series and I know without a doubt that it will never get old for me. Unfortunately, though, more often than not I see people disliking this series, and especially Belly. I figured that since I have time, and since I have now read this over and over—that is it is time for me to put into words why these books have been so special for me.

He spun me around, and I felt dizzy. With pure, absolute joy.

First of all, this first book in particular, is a perfect light read for the beach. I don’t want that to totally fool you though because something about Han’s writing in this entire series has hit me at one time or another. Whether that was because Belly’s thoughts and feelings reminded me of specific instances in my own life or what, there were so many times where I physically FELT things. There is joy, sadness, and all of the rest of the emotions that are associated with a first love. There is a strong sense of family and friendships that will stand the test of time. Most of all there is summer. Being the Michigan girl that I am, am plenty familiar with going to the beach and spending time on the water. However, there has always been something about the ocean that has called to me. I think it might have a bit of magic to it, honestly.

I had to, I had to do it, because to not do it would kill me. I couldn’t keep yearning for something, for someone who might or might not like me back. I had to know for sure. Now or never.

Now the main concern that most people seem to have with this series is Belly. Pretty much everything about Belly. And I get it, really I do. I myself am more of a fantasy reader and therefore are much more used to strong female leads. HoweverI feel like everything about Belly is authentic. In this first book she is fifteen. Yes she can be whiney (a lot) and she can be immature about things (a lot) but then again, weren’t we all a little bit like that at least for a time when we were fifteen?  I guess what I am trying to say is that I understand Belly. Here she has been, constantly trying to keep up with her brother and the Fisher boys and constantly being left behind. She is in love with Conrad and has been since she’s been like eleven years old and yet he is cold and aloof and kind of a jerk. She may bring Cam around to make him jealous and that might be immature of her but….she is only fifteen. How do we ever learn to grow up unless we make those kinds of mistakes? I like Belly for all of her faults and probably always will.

The old pull, the tide drawing me back in. I kept getting caught in this current—first love, I mean. First love kept making me come back to this, to him. He still took my breath away, just being near him. I had been lying to myself the night before, thinking I was free, thinking I had let him go. It didn’t matter what he said or did, I’d never let him go.

Conrad Fisher is usually the second main concern people have with these series. I want to make it known that I am 100% team Conrad and have been since I picked up this book for the first time. As a person he is moody, sarcastic, cold, and can be a downright jerk to Belly. But it’s so much more than that. He’s Susannah’s sensitive boy. The one who has tried his best to please his father and who doesn’t know how to handle a few different events that happen during the book. He might not seem like a good choice for Belly compared to sweet Jeremiah, but I just knew from the start that he’d be worth it. He might not seem like it but I could see that he had probably loved Belly for a long time and would continue to do so for the rest of his life, whether she was with him or not.

I have never cared that the characters weren’t perfect because I was too busy focusing on the fact that they were real. This whole series, in my opinion is the perfect summer read about first loves, friendships, and family.

The Summer I Turned Pretty Book Cover The Summer I Turned Pretty
The Summer I Turned Pretty, #1
Jenny Han
YA Contemporary
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
May 5th, 2009

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.

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