Monday, January 24, 2011

The Summer I Turned Pretty

Jenny Han

With below zero temperatures outside and snow storms that leave inches, if not feet, at your doorstep (especially in the Midwest like, say Milwaukee), it's certainly nice to escape into a book oozing with images of the beach, sun and surf like this first book in Jenny Han's Summer novels.  The Summer I Turned Pretty follows sixteen-year-old Belly as she returns to the beach house she's spent every summer of her life at, during a time when she's beginning to flower into a beautiful young woman.  With her mother and brother, they stay at this summer house with her mother's best friend Suzanne and her two boys, who are just a little older than Belly, funny, friendly Jeremiah and broody Conrad, who she's had a crush on her entire life.  Jeremiah and Conrad have always treated her like a pesky little sister, often hanging out more with her brother Steven than her, a group of boys that made her feel like an outsider, but she loves the beach and this year is different.  I really like the format that Han uses with this novel, with different chapters often delving into the past and flushing out certain times that have been referenced or just illustrate a relationship that Belly's had with one or other of the characters.  It really does give you a feeling of summer and vacationing, with the bonfires and midnight swims, and of course that first boy she goes on a date with, Cam.  The Summer I Turned Pretty is a wonderful coming-of-age story that sees Belly learn to understand the complicated people that she's known for a long time a little better, as well as herself amid the secrets and longings going on around her.  I was deeply engrossed by this book and loved escaping to Belly's beach house, a place I will be revisiting again very soon.

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