Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (May 5, 2009)
Hardcover: 288 pages
Price: $11.55 from Amazon
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.


Review: I don't even know why I was reluctant to read this book in the first place. I was stopping by the library and saw this book, and was like "woah! I know that one" but just felt like it wasn't going to be worth it. (Probably because of the let down I had from Sarah Dessen's, who's one of my favorite young adult romance authors, Lock and Key.) I turned my back and some old lady snatches it for her granddaughter! I always get a little competitive, so I think that's what finally got me to read The Summer I Turned Pretty. And I'm so glad I did. :)

This was my first book by Jenny Han, and I'm happy to say that it definitely lived up to any expectations I had! The dialogue was relaistic and witty, and I found myself  appreciating some good jokes and playful conversations. It was exactly like the easy-flowing conversations I have with my friends, except perhaps with better insults. There were also tons of those hard-to-explain, special memories, like singing in the car with your mom full volume. I would say about half of those memories are told as flashbacks, which worked, but it took me a while to realize that underneath the chapter title it said "AGE __."

The major objections I have are about characters, yet again. Belly, the main girl, is sort of too whiny for my tastes. The other characters' do tease her about pouting, but I think that's meant to contrast the smaller Belly and the grown up one. However, I really didn't find that much of a difference because Belly often says "shut up," instead of firing back insults. I'll admit I even use "shut up" frequently, but not at every insult like Belly seems to do. And when Belly finally decides to nervously reveal her love, when her love interest says he's not interested, she insists that she knows he is! Woah, slow down there, what happened to the timid Belly?

Still on the topic about characters, this issue deserves its own new paragraph. The love Belly chooses at the end. I just didn't feel like it was the right one. She has three guys vying after her: two extremely kind, caring, sweet, and sensitive; the other very moody and aloof. The claims Belly makes about the guy she ultimately chooses I just didn't see present in the book. But I'll happily take the leftovers!

Bottom Line: The Summer I Turned Pretty was everything a summer should be: hot boys, bonfire parties, first loves, broken hearts, old memories, and more. It was exactly the kind of carefree, seperate summer world that I (theoretically) wish I could have. The writing is smooth and captures the essence of teenage years, and the hard transition to adulthood. While Belly didn't exactly chalk up to my standards in parts of her behavior and her at times shallow judgement of people, there were definitely a lot of teenage angst there that I can relate with. Overall, The Summer I Turned Pretty was a fun, ligh read and a great introduction to Jenny Han's books, and I'll be looking out for more!

And just as an extra: I've had this song stuck in my head for a few days, but The Summer I Turned Pretty just brings it up again. Enjoy!