The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han: Book Review

The Summer I Turned PrettyTHE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han Book Review
Series: Summer, #1
Publication Date: May 5th 2009 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations |

Book Summary: 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.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han Book Review Overview:

  • Jenny Han’s writing  makes me want to gobble it up in one sitting
  • Belly is probably the kind of girl I would hate in real life
  • None of the love interests actually make me go swoon, but really I just want to find out who Belly ends up with

I am not a love triangle kind of girl. I am not a love square kind of girl. So I think it’s a little bit weird that I enjoyed THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han so much. Forget the fact that this book is a little unrealistic. It was such a fun read that I could forget that some elements in this book are ones that are usually a deal-breaker for me.

There’s something about Jenny Han’s writing that just makes me want to gobble it up in one sitting. Her writing is infectious and all I want to do is sit there and read. For me, there is no such thing as just one more chapter. I read THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han in less than 24 hours. I love how Han alternates between the present and the past. She injects little anecdotes from the summers past seamlessly throughout the novel. The anecdotes made me feel as if I was inside Belly’s head from the way an object or an action can flare up a memory that you thought had been long forgotten.

What I loved most about THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han was the family dynamic between the Fishers and the Conklins. Belly’s mom and Conrad and Jeremiah’s mom have been best friends since college. Every summer since before Belly was born. The two mothers would bring their children to the beach house for the entire summer. Susannah, the mother of Conrad and Jeremiah, is like a second mother to Belly. In some ways, Belly connects more to Susannah than to her own mom. I love the interaction between the two mothers and the way that they act around their children.

Belly – short for Isabel – is our main protagonist. At fifteen, Belly has finally grown into her looks and she’s captured the attention of just about every guy at Cousins Beach. Upon Han’s introduction to Belly, I admit I was a little sad that I was reading yet another fun contemporary novel with a non-P.O.C. as the main character. (I can probably go on a rampage about this issue, but you know, that’s a whole different blog post entirely.) Belly is probably the kind of girl I would hate in real life. I can’t say I necessarily related to her character. But in THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han, I was just too engrossed to care.

Then there’s the boys. None of them actually make me go swoony and I’m not declaring any of them as my newest Book Boyfriend anytime soon, but they were – again – fun to read about. I hate to play favorites, but if Belly ends up with anyone (sometimes, I just think she should end up alone at the end of the series; yeah I’m evil), I would want it to be Jeremiah. Jeremiah is such a sweetheart and he’s practically her best friend. True, I always root for the best friend in books because, let’s face it, the best friend is usually the underdog. Cam is my second favorite love interest in THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han because he’s just so nice. And I guess I’m a sucker for a guy who can speak several languages – especially Latin. Intelligence is pretty sexy. And of course, there’s Conrad. I know Conrad is supposed to be all sexy because of the fact that he’s a broody loner who plays the guitar, but gah it was such a turn off for me in THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY. I just didn’t understand the appeal. Younger Conrad had  some pretty decent qualities, but the Present Day Conrad was a moody, anti-social, and selfish teenager.

I can still see the love triangle – okay, I’m sorry Cam, but you really aren’t in the picture for me, as much as I loved you as a character – still being an issue for me in the future books. I love the brotherly dynamics inTHE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han and I would hate to see Conrad and Jeremiah fight over Belly. That may be the entire point of the series, so it might be a good idea for me to just quit while I’m ahead… But at this point, I am so in love with the way Jenny Han writes that I’m at the point of no return.

The last time I was engrossed in a contemporary novel like this was when I read Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt. I have a lot harder time explaining why I loved THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han so freaking much because it isn’t the kind of book I thought I would like. THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han is just delicious summer fun in a paperback.

Other Book Reviews:
Realm of Fiction
Reviews of Young Adult Literature
Stalking the Bookshelves

About the Author

Jenny HanJenny Han is the author of Shug, The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, and We’ll Always Have Summer. She is also the author of the chapter book Clara Lee and The Apple Pie Dream. A former children’s bookseller, she earned her MFA in creative writing at the New School. She works as a YA librarian at a private school on the Upper West Side.

Find the Author

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  1. Hmmm I really want to read this – but UGH I hate how distracting her name is!! I just can’t get passed it every time I try to pick it up… Oh well, maybe someday. :P

    I’m glad you enjoyed it! :D

    Sierra @ Yearning to Read

  2. Thanks for the review! I just started reading “It’s not summer without you” so I was a little confused at the begenning because I didn’t really know who Savannah was or what REALLY happened in the first book.
    I’m enjoying it so far.

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