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“It was a summer I’d never, ever forget. It was the summer everything began. It was the summer I turned pretty. Because for the first time, I felt it. Pretty, I mean. Every summer up to this one, I believed it’d be different. Life would be different. And that summer it finally was,” Belly. – The Summer I Turned Pretty
The Summer I Turned Pretty #1
by Jenny Han
The story follows 15-year-old Belly, who has gone to Cousin Beach every summer since she was born, along with her brother Steven and their mom Laurel. The house owner, Susannah, is Laurel’s best friend, and their visits are a tradition Belly always looks forward to.
Belly holds a genuine love for the house and the memories it holds. Especially when it comes to the memories Belly has shared with Susannah’s son, Conrad. Conrad is known for his intense, quiet presence and his keen observance of everything around him. Belly has been completely infatuated with him ever since they were kids. But with Conrad, she never truly knows where she stands.
It’s the complete opposite with Conrad’s younger brother, Jeremiah. Jeremiah and Belly have been close friends for as long as she can remember. They’ve kept each other’s secrets and looked out for one another. Jeremiah has been a great friend, although this summer he may no longer be satisfied with just being friends.
This year, Belly decides to branch out on her own rather than staying stuck behind the boys’ shadows. Belly is finally coming into her own and gaining confidence, which gives her the courage to venture off and meet new people. Even though Belly is determined to change, she finds herself conflicted. Somehow every time Belly thinks she’s left her insecurity behind, she runs into things that make her feel like the self-doubting little girl she once was. This causes her to reflect on the past summer memories that led her to this point.
The Summer I Turned Pretty will effortlessly keep readers intrigued because Belly shares her love for Cousins Beach and brings readers into her whirlwind life full of boys. Belly is a realistic character who faces typical teenage conflicts such as liking boys and trying to fit in. Belly’s strong-headedness will cause readers to root for her as she takes the reader through emotions such as cheerfulness, heartbreak, and nostalgia.
Although The Summer I Turned Pretty is full of clichés and a typical love triangle, the characters will make readers fall in love with them. Since the characters share their memories, their complexities shine. Plus, readers will enjoy seeing both Belly’s struggles in the present and her reminiscence on her past. However, the constant switching of time periods is frustratingly confusing. The Summer I Turned Pretty is a summer romance that is a fun, easy read that will leave you in tears. For more sweet summer romance worthy of taking to the beach to read, check out The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson.
- Cam writes a note to Belly saying, “IOU one skinny-dip.”
- Belly has her first kiss with Jeremiah. “He kissed me right on the lips. His mouth was a little bit open, but it wasn’t a French kiss or anything. I tried to push him off, but he kept on kissing me for a few more seconds.”
- While parked in the driveway, Belly shares a kiss with Cameron. “He dipped his head low and kissed me. I didn’t let go of the door handle. All I could think was, I wish this had been my first kiss.”
- In the midst of consoling Conrad, Belly kisses him. “I let his head rest there, stroking the back of his hair, and then I cup the back of his head, moved it toward me, and kissed him. Tentatively at first, and then he started kissing me back, and we were kissing each other.”
- Belly catches her best friend and her brother kissing on the beach. “He had his arms around her, and they were kissing. They weren’t even watching the sunrise.”
- Jeremiah explains his first kiss to Belly. He says, “The first time I kissed a girl was a joke. She kept telling me what I was doing wrong.”
- Conrad almost gets in a fight with a guy at a party. “Conrad was looking for a fight. He wouldn’t be satisfied until he got one, period, and this guy, he could kill Conrad.” They do not end up fighting.
- Conrad and Jeremiah get into a confrontation over different opinions. “Conrad pushed Jeremiah away roughly, and Jeremiah pushed him back. Conrad stumbled and nearly fell, and when he rose up, he punched Jeremiah right in the face. I think I screamed. Then they were wrestling around, grabbing at each other, hitting and cursing and breathing heavy. They knocked over Susannah’s big glass jar of Santee, and it cracked open. Tea spilled out all over the porch. There was blood on the sand.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Because Conrad has been distant and on edge, Belly’s mom asks, “Is Conrad doing drugs?” Belly says he is not.
- Conrad is caught smoking a cigarette. “Since when did you start smoking?” Belly asks him accusingly.
- Conrad leaves empty beer cans on the patio, after drinking alone.
- Someone offers Belly a beer, but she declines it.
- A boy named Kinsey is rumored to sell “crystal meth out of his trunk.”
- Belly’s mother has “been taking medicinal marijuana to help with nausea from the chemo.”
- Profanity is used frequently. Profanity includes hell and ass.
- A girl calls Belly a “little skank.”
by Jae’La Leavy