The Summer I Turned Pretty
by Jenny Han
Published May 5th 2009 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
young adult | contemporary | romance
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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. And they will continue to be so despite all odds.
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.
AIsabel Conklin, also known as Belly, Bells, Belly Button, Bean, Flavia, Izzy, and who knows what else, is a 15 year old girl who grew boobs and started wearing contacts instead of glasses (also known as, according to Han, “turning pretty”) just in time for summer. Because, as we all know, glasses and flat chests are so unattractive (not!). Every summer, Bells gets to go to her mother’s best friend’s house, where two attractive sons reside and who, have always, treated Belly like a little sister.
But *gasp* this summer feels… different. Is it possible that Jeremiah and Conrad, the two sons, might, like, have developed feelings for her? Was it the boobs? Was it the lack of a retainer? Was it the contacts? Because god forbid a guy find a girl attractive otherwise.
That was one of my peeves with this book: the emphasis on Bean’s physical attributes (even though in truth, all the reader got about her physical appearance was that she was no longer wearing glasses and a retainer and that her boobs got bigger). She was such a superficial and small minded character. Her problems were a joke: the boys didn’t play with her, her dad bought her a piano to make her feel welcome at his home but it was ugh out of tune, the pink blankets were itchy, her mom handled her divorce well, she wasn’t allowed to be given a ride home by a guy she just met at a party, she doesn’t pee standing up so she isn’t one of the boys (cause all of us girls know how much that sucks!), (not two but) three boys are in love with her, her older brother treats her like a little sister, and sigh, the list goes on and on.
Belly Button might have finally “grown up”, but she was still a child, and like a child, she whined and complained about being treated like a child. The irony.
The two brothers, Jeremiah and Conrad were simply Team Jacob vs Team Edward. To your left, ladies and gentlemen, we have warm, sweet, and playful
Jacob ahem, I mean Jeremiah, and on your right, throw a round of rotten tomatoes to gloomy, moody, and aggressive/self-destructive Edward Conrad. The whole book consisted of Conrad locking himself up in his own world, getting drunk, and picking fights with everyone while Jeremiah cracked jokes, hung out, and tried to ease up the mood for everyone’s sake. Putting it simply, the who-should-I-choose dilemma isn’t that hard to solve, is it? For Flavia it is. She’s just so confused.
But wait, hold up, ladies and gentlemen. It seems we have a third competitor entering the ring. Please welcome… Cam Cameron!!!!!!! Cam Cameron is the sweet, perfect, intelligent, and absolutely attentive guy in the movies that makes every girl say, “I wish boys like that existed.” That’s Cam. But who wants a French-English-Japanese speaking, good looking, intelligent, say no to drugs, vegetarian boy when you can have (or can’t, really) moody Conrad?
Belly played them. She played all three of them. Conrad summarized the whole book when:
“Get your head out of your ass, Belly. The world doesn’t revolve around you.”
He stepped closer to me. “One minute you like me. Then Cam…” Conrad paused. “And then Jeremiah. Isn’t that right? You want to have your cake and eat it too, but you also want your cookies, and your ice cream…”
My poor Jeremiah, always second best next to Conrad. And poor Cam. Oh, sweet, sweet Cam. It was an injustice! I could not stand for it. He spent the whole summer with Belly Button and gave her such a sweet romance, only for her to get mad at him because he said no to skinny dipping, to use him to make Conrad jealous, and to throw him away and never answer his calls when she was done with him. He did not deserve that, you ass!
As Conrad said, Flavia really needed to get her head out of her ass. The situations going on around her were much more serious than she even realized, and I think that’s what I most liked about this book. In the end she had to get her head out of her ass and see the sunshine for once. Conrad wasn’t being self destructive because seeing her with Cam was killing him; Jeremiah wasn’t protective and putting on a brave face because she liked Conrad or Cam; the fights going on weren’t happening because of her. It was nice. (Although somehow, someway she still managed to make it about her. For example, when Conrad was, for the first time, openly crying about his mother’s cancer, she decided to… kiss him…….. what??)
Gosh, Izzy, please grow up by the time I get to the next book.
You can find this review on Goodreads.
I’m Sara, a Colombian teenager with a never-ending enjoyment for reading. I’m a Netflix and Disney enthusiast and my monumental obsession is coffee.