Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Throwback Titles (5): The Summer I Turned Pretty, or, The One with All the Summer Nostalgia

Throwback Titles are books that I've been meaning to read for a very, very long time, but have just now gotten around to it. In other words, it's that book you picked up in middle school that may have been a little bit above your reading level, and also happened to have 14 sequels. And what do you, a rational adult do now that you've realized that you stopped a mere five books from finishing the series? Continue, of course.

That's most of my stories, but I consider a throwback title to be any book 5 or more years old. Let's clear these babies out of to-be-reads and remind people of their favorite 2005 novel! I'll be posting a throwback title every Thursday (naturally). Please join in the fun by adding to the linky below and adding my graphic (or one of yours, as long as it links back here) above to your post!

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5821978 The Summer I Turned Pretty

by Jenny Han

Pages: 276
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 5th, 2009

Cover Comments: Nothing to write home about, but I don't mind this cover that much. I love Belly's gaze and appearance, but the boys look kind of strange. I love the sun peeking out over the left side, and the font change of "pretty".

First Lines: 
"We'd been driving for about seven thousand years.
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 was a little surprised that I loved this book so much. From the outset, it seems like typical YA summer fare: a pretty girl is torn between two guys and also: beach stuff! But The Summer I Turned Pretty was so much more than that. In fact, while the romance aspects of the book took up a lot of time and words, I didn't feel like it was the meat of the story.

What I found so compelling was the perfect portrait that Han paints of the magic of summer when you're an adolescent/teen. This book brought back perfectly the feeling I got when I returned to the same "summer place" feeling completely different every year. There's this hope at that age that you can change completely over a year, and the people you only see during the summer months will notice and everything else will change too. That never quite happened for me, but it does for Belly.

I also loved the setting of a small beach town imbued with years' worth of Belly's memories. I'm not always a big fan of flashbacks, but they fit perfectly in this book and added to the complexity of the current summer.

Lastly, the other big plot point concerning Susannah (Conrad and Jeremiah's mom) was very touchingly done and while obvious to me from the beginning, made for some interesting moments closer to the end.

I'm not so sure that the end was the one I wanted or focused on the right things (I'm a summer nostalgia junkie I suppose), but I'm excited to continue the series.

In a nutshell: a wonderful book full of perfect and bittersweet summer snapshots.


4/5 snapshot summers

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