Saturday, March 26, 2011
Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty
Published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, April 2010
I got this book at the library.
Synopsis via Goodreads: 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.
I read this book last night. I couldn't put it down, yet I'm not completely sure how I feel about it. I mean, I didn't hate it, far from it. But I'm not sure if I loved it or just really liked it. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense. It's a great book, but there were some things that I didn't like about it though.
I liked that it wasn't your typical light summer read. The main character Belly (short for Isabel, and I'd have preferred that to her constantly being called Belly) is spending another summer at with her mother and brother at the summer home of her mother's best friend Suzannah and her two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. It's not their typical summer as Belly's brother leaves to go college touring, and Suzannah is battling cancer. Pretty intense, right?
I did like the story overall, although I felt I could relate more to Jeremiah and Conrad rather than to Belly. At times I thought that she was too pouty or whiny, but that was one of the things that was later pointed out in the book my some of the other characters, and eventually Belly herself.
I'm not sure how I felt that the love triangle of Conrad, Belly and Cam was a bit overdone. Sometimes it was suggested that Jeremiah also factored in, but it is at times unclear how she feels about Jeremiah. She puts a lot of emphasis on their friendship. I know it's all going to come around to a conclusion within the next two books, but the set-up so far just makes Belly seem really boy crazy and I don't think that's the best thing.
I wasn't sure how to feel about Belly's mother either. She wasn't really fledged out in this book, I thought she came across as really controlling and had a need to micro-manage. I'm wondering if that's how she's meant to be portrayed or if we'll find out more about her in the sequels (of which there are two.) She did have moments where there seemed to be so much more to her character but those moments were fleeting. The one that stands out the most is the scene with the dress.
I did like that Belly decided to start dating a guy who was not only smart, but liked her for who she was inside. A lot of times in YA the girl goes for the guy who's cute, or athletic, but very rarely do I come across a girl who goes for the smart, kind of nerdy guy. I really love it when it happens.
I liked the pacing of the novel and the the story was interspersed with chapters that were flashbacks that acted as a catalyst to the current summer. There was a very interesting juxtaposition between boys who are friends and girls that were friends being played out in the same summer; as well as the difference between how boys and girls flirt.
In conclusion, I did like this novel, but I'm not quite sold on whether or not I love it. I am planning to read the rest of the series, though. I liked it enough that I do have to know how the series turns out. Perhaps the other two books will provide the oomph that I kind of feel was lacking. Although as the first book in a series, I think it's setting a good pace for what's to come.
I give this one 3 dog-eared pages.