Tuesday, 19 June 2012

'The Summer I Turned Pretty' by Jenny Han

The third book I read for the Goodreads challenge was 'The Summer I Turned Pretty' by Jenny Han. This is part of a trilogy, though when I read the first two books, the third wasn't released yet. It is now out, but I haven't the funds to buy it. Perhaps by the end of the year, as it would be nice to review all the books in the trilogy.

What's it about?
Fifteen year old Isabel (or Belly) measures her life in summers, always willing the winter months away so she can go to the beach house that her mother's best friend, Susannah, owns. Susannah's has two sons, eighteen year old Conrad who Belly's been in love with since she was ten, and sixteen year old Jeremiah, is full of jokes and like a brother to Belly. After spending every summer with Conrad and Jeremiah always doing things with her older brother Steven and leaving her out - Belly is finally a included, and the boys aren't looking at her like a little sister any more.

What did I think of it?
This book is very much a quick and easy beach read, but one that is surprisingly touching. The author switches back and forth from the present to past summers which helps you to understand the relationship between all the characters. It is written in the first person from the perspective of Belly (Isabel), which is one of the things I disliked about the book. I do really like first person narration, but Belly is an irritating and whiny character. It's her personality which really lets this book down. The plot line itself is decent enough, with enough love triangle and some other intrigues to keep you interested but I did find myself tiring of Belly's commentary. It wasn't quite enough to make me dislike the book but I think the book would have been much more enjoyable if Belly was more likeable. I understand she's supposed to be flawed and in the process of growing up, but I feel that other books manage to have a childish character maturing in a far less annoying way.

Enough about Belly, what about the other characters? Well Conrad is aloof, moody and the silent type struggling with a few issues, whilst his brother Jeremiah is the opposite- friendly, ready for fun and smiling. I enjoyed the relationship between the brothers but I felt that you didn't learn too much about them in this book, but it is the first of the trilogy. Although I feel that the book could have benefited from exploring the brothers characters a little more, as I felt I was supposed to like Conrad, but I couldn't because not much is given away about his personality. If I were Belly, I'd choose Jeremiah!

I did enjoy this book despite my grumblings about Belly, and although the secondary characters aren't as well developed as I'd have liked, and it hasn't got much in the way of a traditional plot as such, it kept me interested, and intrigued enough to buy the sequel. The blurb makes it sound like a summer of unrequited love and love triangles but there are other plot points ticking away in the background and revealed in the last few chapters. It's definitely a mixed bag, but I can imagine tweens adoring it. It won't be everyone's cup of tea. If whiny, self absorbed teenagers aren't your thing, stay well clear!


Goodreads Reading Challenge
This book is number 3 out of 50

1 comment:

  1. I've been curious about this series because I've heard such good things, so it was fun for me to read your thoughts since they differ a bit. I love a differing opinion, it always makes me want to read the book more to see what I'll think. Whiny characters are always problematic for me, so I think Belly and I would have a troubled relationship :( Thanks for the review Caliowin!