The Summer I Turned Pretty (Jenny Han)

The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first novel in the The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy by Jenny Han.
Finished on: 26.7.2022

Content Note: ableism

Belly has always spend the summers at the beach with her family, at the house of her mother Laurel’s best friend Susannah. For the summer, it was she, her brother Steven and Susannah’s sons Conrad and Jeremiah. Each summer, it was Belly’s secret crush on Conrad and her friendship with Jeremiah. She always hoped that Conrad would see her as something else than the kid sister of his friend at some point, and this summer is shaping up to be actually different from the summers that came before.

The Summer I Turned Pretty is a quick sweet read that managed to make a love triangle palatable to me. The ending felt a little fast, but since it is only the first novel in a trilogy, that’s quite okay.

The book cover showing a girl and two boys in swimming suits/truns running on the beach.

The Summer I Turned Pretty doesn’t hold many surprises, I thought, except for the fact that all three guys in Belly’s life are rather likeable, all in different ways. That’s not often the case. Though admittedly, since I’m not one for brooding, Conrad was my least favorite of the three. And I was not so quick to forgive his assholish moments as Belly was. (Jeremiah is much more up my alley.)

I did wish that we got to see Belly interact more with other girls, especially since Laurel’s friendship with Susannah is so very important. That Belly’s relationship with her best friend Taylor is strained, and Taylor framed in a rather negative way (apparently to make Belly “not like the other girls”), is an absolute pity. I would have liked a bit more female solidarity for and from Belly.

There is also one moment where Taylor uses “gay” in a derogatory way and gets called out by the kids around her for it (excellent!). She then substitutes “gay” with “lame” and everybody is happy. And I almost died at the irony that ableist language seems like a perfect substitute for homomisic language. Thanks for nothing.

But other than that, I very much enjoyed The Summer I Turned Pretty (though probably not as much as the To All The Boys trilogy). I blazed through it in half a day on the beach which was honestly the best place to read it. The ending, as I said, was a little unsatisfying – I thought that the jump in time (a couple of months forward) was a little fast, and I was still busy with dissecting what was happening in the summer. But since it’s not actually the end of the story, I will see where the other two installments will take me from here.

Summarizing: cute summer reading.

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