In my never-ending, heroic quest to reform myself as a contemporary-loving reader,I picked up the Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han.
Some summers are just destined to be pretty
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 wonderful and terrible 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 is a quick, pleasant read. I was hesitant to get started on it--but once I did, I fair sped through it. The writing is just so smooth and easy to digest--it's one of those books that is relaxing and good for a--well,--summer day.
However, I had a hard time relating to Belly. She just came off as so childish to me. Maybe I'm being unfair--a lot of the book is related through flashbacks in which Belly is nine or eleven, and continually picked on by her older brother and the boys at the beach house. So that may be influencing my opinion of her. But ultimately, Belly did not do much for me: I thought her actions were particularly annoying at times, and as a narrator, she wasn't anything special.
Perhaps it's because of my ignorance regarding contemporary books, but I didn't think highly of the plot. I just couldn't figure out what the point of the book is--what the characters wanted, what they were doing, or why I should be interested in their lives at all. Belly is just an average girl, and I felt like there wasn't anything terribly exciting going on--there wasn't that much tension or urgency.
And then there are the love interests. Belly's "boyfriend" (who she just dates to make another character jealous) is sweet, so I had a hard time sympathizing with Belly's callous attitude towards him. Similarly, Jeremiah, the younger brother, is so kind and nice to Belly--he's a great friend--but Belly doesn't treat him well either. Conrad, the brooding and secretive older brother, is instead the object of her attentions. And I can't for the life of me figure out why. I found nothing appealing about Conrad. He was decidedly unattractive and moody and harsh--all supposedly because Belly "turned pretty" this summer. Belly is like a lost puppy pining after him--which to me was quite painful to read.
Overall, Belly's actions throughout the book show that she is selfish and childish, which seem to be the main aspects of Belly's personality. Furthermore, the great "secret" in the book was easily discerned; the entirety of this book was very predictable.
But I can't deny that The Summer I Turned Pretty is relaxing and mildly enjoyable. Jenny Han certainly knows how to write--the book flowed so wonderfully, and the dialogue and interplay between Belly and the boys came off as suitably realistic. I really enjoyed the flashbacks because they were expertly done and interweaved throughout the story.
Ultimately, I'm not terribly in love with this book. But despite my problems with the characters, I really didn't mind reading it. I'm certain that many other teenage girls will revel in Belly's summers.
I give it a 7/10
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