Title: The Summer I Turned Pretty
Author: Jenny Han
Published: May 5, 2009
Number of Pages: 276
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 terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along. (goodreads)
“Moments, when lost, can't be found again. They're just gone.”
My friends at school recommended this book to me. It was kind of like the hype for The Hunger Games, except it was only the girls. The guys weren't bothering me about it (thank God, I would have been scared if they had). I was pretty skeptical—I like the magical, bloody stuff. A love story? Really? But I tried it out—after all, I needed something to hold me off for Tuesday. (At least I have the other two since I finished this one within six hours) But anyway, my friend dropped it off and I started it.
The story is more heartfelt than I was expecting. I think the thing that I love most about it is that the protagonist does happen to pout quite a bit, but she's aware of it. I don't see that very often. In fact, throughout a lot of the book it's emphasized that everyone knows it.
All of the characters are structured well, and you care about all of them. There were no really bad people in the book, and I loved it. It's really a kind of nice change of pace. And the love story involved really is nice. It's nothing totally out-of-whack, purely realistic. And then another element is added to the triangle, making it a square, and it's pretty awesome.
But that's not the big deal with this story. You don't realize the big deal until much later in. It's not about the love story, it's not about the main character maturing into a young woman. It's about the bonds between families and friends, how they can build and crumble over the years. How even the smallest glance can pin you into somebody's memory forever. How one small word, one small phrase, can change everything for better or worse. It shows how people can build up walls of cruelty or indifference to what they truly feel.
The more I think about this book, the more I like it. The language in it was spectacular, and refreshingly easy to read. You never had to reread something to understand it. You learn to tell one person's speech from another just from the way they word their sentences. The story turned deep at the climax, and I found myself getting choked up along with our protagonist. (This is my one gripe. Belly? Augh. I'm all for unique names, but anything other than something like that. It's just me, though; and my preferences.)
Another thing that sort of took away from the story for me was that it seems like no much happens. I started reading, and when I was one hundred pages in, it seemed like only about three major events had occurred. It sped up later, I know, but it took away from the surprise of the story somewhat. But I will grant that even when it seemed like not much was going on, you were intrigued with what you were reading.
Hm...what else? This story touches the issues of teen drugs, alcohol, and smoking. I do like that. It's not enough that the book completely discourages it, but it gives a positive image of not doing it. Belly encourages Conrad not to smoke, and she chooses not to drink even when the opportunity is before her. When her mother and 'adopted' mother smoke pot at one point, she, Conrad, Jeremiah, and Steven all get upset. I liked that.
It also touches on divorce. It doesn't pin it as good or bad. I mean, it's always a sad thing, but it's nice that it doesn't make it sound like a sin. It happens, and it can either wreck lives or bring some people closer together. We see that even the happiest of couples can unravel. They're all just very unique views that the author expresses, and they're memorable.
I can't think of much else to say. I give this book five stars for being one of the best love stories that kept me majorly interested, and it didn't even have supernatural elements in it! Yippee! So, my friend lent me all three of the books, so I'm onto the second one... (; waiting for Tuesday~
Reading: It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han, I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak [reread], Looking for Alaska by John Green [reread]
Listening to: Xion's Theme [Slowed Version] - Yoko Shimomura
Watching: ...Family Guy. Sorry, I don't have epic morals ):
Quote: "Alaska, this is Pudge. He memorizes people's last words. Pudge, this is Alaska. She got her boob honked over the summer." — The Colonel; Looking for Alaska - John Green
[I think that quote is correct. I just put it off the top of my head.]