Isabel, or Belly, has travelled to Cousins Beach every summer of her life with her mom and brother. They share a house with their family friend and her sons, Conrad and Jeremiah Fisher. Previously Belly has been the little sister who always tags along but that no one really pays much attention to. So, year after year Belly wishes to be included and watches the boys from a distance, especially moody Conrad.
This year however, is going to be different; Belly can feel it. It’s the first year her older brother doesn’t spend the whole summer with them. Also, it seems like Jeremiah, who’s always been her friend and confidant, is paying more attention to her. Furthermore, Belly is determined to finally be over Conrad, but seeing him again brings up old feelings which then cause trouble when a new boy enters Belly’s life. The summer Belly turned pretty changes everything – for better and for worse.
This one was on my To Read List for a while! So glad I finally got to it! Belly’s story makes me long for the beach and summer vacation.
This is the first of Jenny Han’s books I’ve read and I definitely plan on reading more. I’m a huge fan of Sarah Dessen and this book has such a similar feel to Dessen’s novels. I even found myself wondering how far Han’s Cousins Beach is from Dessen’s beach town of Colby. Maybe one day Han and Dessen will co-author a book where the characters meet; that might be too much cool for me to handle!
Back to reality….Belly is an interesting character. She makes me remember myself at that age hoping and praying for life to begin; for things to finally get interesting. Belly is tired of being the one left behind when the guys go out to beach bonfire parties, tired of staying home and watching movies alone with her mom and mom’s friend (although she loves spending time with them too). And Belly is older now, it is time for things to start moving; she’s ready for it. I think that every girl can attest to asking their teenage selves, “When is it my turn for excitement?”. But at the same time, Belly is still that little girl. She wants to be noticed and seen as more mature, but as much as she tries, Belly sometimes reverts back to the little girl threatening to tell her mother. It’s not all her fault, the boys to goad her, but she sometimes feeds into their expectations of her. I love Belly for this; the fact that she is struggling with changes in life makes me see myself in her. I get Belly and I like her.
Belly’s story makes me long for the beach and summer vacation and even a little bit of my teenage life. I love that the chapters alternate between Belly’s memories of summers past and the current summer; they really fill in the blanks to the types of relationships Belly has with every other character in the story. Through these memories you understand the complications of friendship and love as the people involved grow older and life causes change; some joyful and some sad.
This is the first in a series of three about Belly, her time in Cousins Beach and her relationship with the Fisher brothers. If I can grab the second title, It’s Not Summer Without You, between students snatching it up it’ll soon be in my To Read pile. I enjoyed this book so much I finished it in, like, two days and it really did make me feel like the warm summer sun was shining on me.
If you enjoy Sarah Dessen’s novels and/or are longing for summer, you’ll most definitely adore The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han.
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers (May 5, 2009)
Format: Library Bound Hardcover; 288 pages
Series: First in a series