Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty


Ashley Park

To acknowledge the coming of summer that we never thought would, the young-adult contemporary novel The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han would be a perfect and speedy read for this bright season of the year. As hinted in the title, the main storyline takes place throughout the duration of high schooler Isabel Conklin’s summer break. True to the long-time tradition of spending break at her mother’s best friend’s beach house, the book revolves around one particular summer that turned things around for Isabel.

Isabel ‘Belly’ had looked forward to the summer every year for the majority of her life. In her eyes, the other three seasons were simply there to mark time and count down the weeks until school let out and she could escape to her favorite place in the world- Susanna’s house. Her mother’s best friend and her basically second mother Susanna owned the most beautiful beach house, and it was the place Belly called home for three of the twelve months. But aside from the location, there was something else that she looked forward to seeing. Or rather, there were two someone else’s- Susanna’s sons Conrad and Jeremiah. 

Ever since she could remember, she had two different relationships with Conrad and Jeremiah. She had the slightest crush on Conrad and found him to be more on the mysterious side, whereas Jeremiah could be read like a book and had become her best friend over the years. She had been growing up every year, but maybe they finally would take notice of her as someone more than the little girl that wasn’t allowed to partake in their fishing and arcade trips.

Although not as popular or well known as Han’s To All the Boys trilogy, The Summer I Turned Pretty was released earlier and is the first in another tri-series of Han’s. Similarly to the To All the Boys series, an on-screen version of The Summer I Turned Pretty has been a plan in the making for a while, and while it was originally on the path to becoming a movie, it is being said that it will now turn into an eight-episode series by Amazon.

I first read this book in middle school, and upon finishing, I found myself buying copies of the sequel and tre-quel. Some have said they found some of the characters to be rather childish with a hint of negative connotation, but on the contrary, I thought that the characters were simply showing their more carefree sides as they were enjoying time with loved ones in a house that served as their summer haven. In this story and the two that follow, we are taken to follow Belly, how she matures as an individual, and the way her relationship dynamics change with those around her. 

Sophia Judice on Goodreads said, “it is currently 4:30 am, i just read this in one sitting and i can confidently say this book was one of the cutest, most comforting reads EVER. it’s cliche and i hate the love triangle trope, but i am obsessed with the summer i turned pretty.” Based on reviews, I can come to the conclusion that this book was basically written with teenage girls specifically, who could relate to the main character, in mind. 

It is a cute and light read, definitely nothing heavy. For anyone who enjoys the typical teen romance novel that induces laughter and maybe a few tears, this is definitely a recommendation that comes to mind.