The Summer I Turned Pretty (Book 1)
Author: Jenny Han
Retail Price: £6.99
UK Publication Date: 3rd June 2010
Everything that happened this past summer, and every summer before it, has all led up to this. To now. Every year Isabel spends a perfect summer at her family friends’ house. There’s the swimming pool at night, the private stretch of sandy beach …and the two boys. Unavailable, aloof Conrad – who she’s been in love with forever – and friendly, relaxed Jeremiah, the only one who’s ever really paid her any attention. But this year something is different. They seem to have noticed her for the first time. It’s going to be an amazing summer – and one she’ll never forget…
Take Twilight, strip away all the fantasy elements (yes that includes the sparkling vampires and werewolf/shapeshifter pack), remove the A from Bella and replace it with Y, relocate the entire story from dreary and wet Forks on the West Coast of America to the sunny beachside town of cousins on the East Coast and then shake it up with a touch of brotherly rivalry and you have The Summer I Turned Pretty. It might sound like a spoof of the now Famous Bella Swan story, but Belly Conklin (it’s short for Isabel not Isabella) isn’t half as annoying although she does have her moments (but then don’t all real people).
This is story of Belly (yes I do think this is an unfortunate name and it wouldn’t have been my first choice but I suppose it plays well to puns and the idea of growing up as the only girl in a summer house full of boys). She has been in love or infatuated with Conrad Fisher, the son of her mother’s best friend, since she can remember, but he has always seen her as Steven’s little sister. Each summer, Belly, her mother and brother spend their entire vacation in a beach house owned by their friends, the Fisher’s. As the only girl, Belly has always had to watch as her brother and the two Fisher boys go off together. She has longed to be part of the gang and she has pined for Conrad.
Now fifteen, Belly expects this summer to be the same but in the last year Belly has grown up and the Fisher boys aren’t looking at her in the same way as they used to. Jeremiah, the younger of the brothers has always been her friend, her confidant, but it is Conrad who she has longed to be with. If we translate this into the Twilight format I would have said for sure that I wanted her to end up with Conrad, the boy she has always loved (yes I’m Team Edward), but in this sweet coming of age story I felt myself willing her to see Jeremiah the way he saw her. I won’t tell you what happens, that would be unfair of me. But whether you’re Team Conrad or Team Jeremiah this is a great summer read. The setting is a place I’d happily be whisked away to and the characters and relationships are believable. Belly can be slightly childish at times but this is something she points out as a flaw. I do feel sorry for her mum who seems like an outsider in her family and Belly is very close to Mrs Fisher but the whole set up works. I would like to have had a more solid, sure ending but then we wouldn’t need books two and three.
If you want a fun, summery romance, about a girl with not one but two potential love interests, and you don’t want any of the fantasy elements of Twilight, then this is the book for you.
I give this book 4 out of 5.
About the author
Jenny Han was born in Richmond, Virginia, and later studied at the University of North Carolina. She now lives in New York where she works part-time as a children’s librarian, in between writing her new series for teens.
Other books in this series:
- It’s Not Summer Without You (Book 2) – Click to read a review
- We’ll Always Have Summer (Book 3) – Click to read a review
If you like this book, you may also like:
- The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
- The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
- The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
- Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Review by Jen