Book Review : The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

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Title : The Summer I Turned Pretty

Author : Jenny Han

Publisher : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release date : May 5th, 2009

Rating : 4/5

Synopsis (from 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.

Review :

I really liked this book because of its simple yet truthful (according to me) depiction of a teenager’s love-driven mind.

I could relate so easily to what Belly was thinking, because… I’ve felt the same way. Not even 5 pages in and the author already spoke my mind on more than one subject!! That was a complete surprise, how Han seemed like a teenager herself (in a good way). It was so fresh, and relieving. I thought this book would become one of my favorite books ever.

The ONLY thing I didn’t really like was the protagonist, Belly. First of all, what kind of name is that? I get that it’s a nickname, short for Isabel, but still… It reminds of a stomachache, worsened because of too much food. What turned me off slightly was that she couldn’t seem to know what to do with herself. Maybe I’m too old and she’s too young, but boyyy, she really needs to know what’s best for her and to work for it. No spoilers here, but I must say I was disappointed in her. She’s not like that the whole time, but every time she was, it seemed like it took that much more importance. And personally, no matter how much I liked the book as a whole, the protagonist is sooo important for me. Like, every time I’ll talk about this book, there will be this shadow overbearing me, pushing me to add a “… buuut the protagonist…” in the conversation.

The plot is divided between the “now” and the “Age __” (11, 12, 14, etc.) of Belly. In the “young chapters”, Han really captures the mindset of a little sister. It’s adorable how real it all feels. To the way young Belly feels left out when the boys play together, to the way young Belly wants to impress them so they let her in…

It feels light and easy to read, but your heart clenches from time to time because you recognize yourself. I don’t know how she does it, but sometimes Han manages to create an aura of simplicity around the plot. Well-placed short sentences, a heart-wrenching understanding of teens’ emotions…

I could compare the reading of this book to this analogy : On a clear night, devoid of noise and distraction, a blunt and simple “I like you”, with a little lilting of the voice, as if it was a half-question. THAT kind of innocent simplicity. It was wonderful.

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