The Summer I Turned Pretty is a lovely book by YA wonder Jenny Han, who also wrote To All The Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before.
The Summer I Turned Pretty is about Isabel ‘Belly’ Conklin and her life measured in summers at Cousin’s Beach, spent with her mother, brother Steven, mother’s best friend Susannah (who she sometimes feels closer to than her own mother), and Susannah’s two sons Conrad and Jeremiah. Belly has been in love with Conrad forever, but as the novel starts, Con and Jere finally start to realise that Belly is a girl, not their silly little friend.
It was a sweet little novel; not as strong as Han’s other YA series, but I would still be interested in reading the rest of the trilogy. It’s a coming-of-age novel, but the problem was, I felt like Belly never really grew up. I completely understand that at that age, boys are the centre of life, but her relationship with her best friend Taylor was more interesting and more disappointing. Not to mention her relationship with herself.
I needed Belly to have more self-respect, and stop being so pathetic, and need Conrad to validate her. And maybe that’s because she was the baby of the group, that she began to treat herself like the baby, but she really needed to grow up. Boys are fun, but they’re not everything.
I love a love story, but this felt really half-hearted. Like Belly loves Conrad, but then she loves Cam, but then she loves Jeremiah, but then back to Conrad. Which I know happens when you’re a teenager, completely, but it felt like she loved them because they loved her, not because she really truly did. I didn’t find myself rooting for any couple really, and the conclusion felt so rushed.
I definitely remember finishing it and thinking there were parts I would change or rewrite, but overall it was an easy read, swallowed in an afternoon and that summer novel that is kind of a YA staple. But as beach books go, We Were Liars is infinitely better.
Maybe I’m too old for this kind of book now, but I don’t think I’m too old for good YA. There are some YA books I’ve read this year that were absolutely fantastic, and brilliantly written.
I just don’t think this was necessarily one of them.
So there you have it… The Summer I Turned Pretty – a quick, light, read, that really needed more depth.
What are your views?