Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

teen summer romanceBook Title/Author: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Publisher/Year: : Simon & Schuster 2009
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: Yes — it’s the first book in the Summer series!
Other Books From Author: Shug, Burn For Burn, rest of the Summer series!

Amazon| Goodreads | Jenny Han’s website

The Story

For as long as Belly can remember she, her brother and mom spent their summer at the beach house with her mom’s best friend Susannah and her sons Jeremiah and Conrad who along the years have been her playmates, her enemies, brother-like figures and in the recent years — her crushes!ย  This summer it seems as though the boys are starting to see how much she’s grown up and are actually letting her hang around.ย  Summers at the beach house were always perfect for Belly and she lived for those months when they’d be back at the beach house — all the other seasons just led up to Summer. This summer seems like the summer that will change everything but will Belly be ready for just how much change?

The Review:

The Summer I Turned Pretty is one of those books that everyone has told me I must read! After having read it I understand why! It’s just one of those really wonderful contemporary YA books that I’m so glad I finally read — it seems like a rite of passage or something for most people who are hardcore contemporary YA fans. And I definitely understand why it’s on all the “Great Beach Reads” lists — it’s got a great summer vibe, romance, fun — but also some substance that makes for some pretty serious and REAL moments that balance really well with the general lightheartedness of the book. Moments that are quite raw and real; a striking contrast to the carefree picture perfect moments of the summers Belly recounts.It’s really quite everything I love in my contemps!

I just love the way Han paints this picture of these summers at the beach house through flashbacks of summers past and obviously through the current summer. She just makes you feel Belly’s love for the beach house and why it’s so special to her. I just got those warm, fuzzy feelings towards my own childhood & teen summer memories — beach days, pools, lazy days lounging in your swim suit, iced tea and more! Han creates the perfect setting for fun and romance and the beach house seems like this perfect backdrop to some of the growing up and self discovery that happens to the characters– something that I feel like will happen even more in the remaining two books with how this one ended!

I loved the boys! Jeremiah and Conrad are just so wonderful and I loved the relationship Belly had with each of them. During the whole book I couldn’t figure out which one was RIGHT for her but I just loved the tension between her and Conrad. I can’t help but love Conrad — I felt like there was something more going on with him and his “brooding” and then at the end when all of his feelings came out…OH MY GOD. I would have been a heaping pile of mess on the beach next to him. I cannot WAIT to see where the next books take her relationships!

I liked Belly. I think I’ll grow to love her. I didn’t feel as though I didn’t get a sense of who she was outside of her love for the beach house and the boys — and the fact she’s kind of whiny. I mean, I know that all we know of her exists in the confines of her summers at the beach house mostly but I did wish I got to know MORE of her — I just didn’t really feel like I KNEW her; but I suspect in the next two books will get a REAL sense of who she is. I hope! The good thing is — she felt REALLY authentic and seemed like a normal girl that anyone could relate to on some level.


My Final Thought

Love the start of this series and so glad I finally listened to all my blogger friends on this one! It’s just a really good example of really wonder contemporary YA. It’s just so real and finely written. Jenny Han gets straight to the heart but not in some contrived, overly dramatic way. She creates something light and fun but with substance and heart — the epitome of what I look for in a beach read! Cannot wait to devour the rest of this trilogy! I also will say I wish I was a teen when I read this becauseย  I would have been even MORE obsessed with this!


You May Also Like: books by Sarah Dessen, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, The Boys Next Door by Jennifer Echols

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I loved this one, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ I get why everyone recommends it, yet I haven’t read the other two books yet. I was surprised by how heavy Han got with things – she really makes it a read that you need to digest because of the emotional aspects. I look forward to reading your reviews of the other two books if/when you get around to reading them.

  2. Just like you I have never read this book although I have been having my eyes on it since forever! It sounds cute and I’m happy you loved it ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Yay! Finally! This book is amazing and not only that but it’s the first YA novel that really impacted me. And my goodness, the tears! It’s the first time I ever remember crying in a book. Oh, the memories! <3 I read this years ago when it first released, read it last year at Christmas and I STILL love it. No matter how much time passes, this book will always hold a special place in my heart. SO happy you've finally discovered this series, Jamie! Have fun reading the rest!

    P.S – Team Conrad FOREVER. *happy sigh*

  4. I can’t even tell you how many times I have seen this book at the library and thought about picking it up. We seem to have pretty similar tastes, and I do love YA Contemps. Great reveiw!

  5. I just read this Saturday night! I finished it in about 3 hours lol and I loooooved it. I really can’t wait to get the other two and find out what happens. I’m going to make a (completely uneducated) guess and say she goes back and forth between both brothers again, and possibly dates both. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    Every time I read a review for this book, it makes me want to re-read the series AGAIN. Jenny Han’s Summer series is by far a favorite of mine. I agree with you that I wish I were a teen experiencing the story, though. I know for a fact that I would have been so far smitten with these books. Oh Conrad. I feel icky crushing on a boy in a YA book, but come on.. the dude is HOT. Also, you will get much more from Belly in the following two books. The story takes on a much deeper feeling. Beware: you will need tissues & remember, I’m always a text away!

  7. You will learn more about Belly, but I’m curious to see if you still think she’s whiny. I did! That’s the only complaint I had about the whole series, except for one I can’t mention until you finish them! The second book is my favorite; I agree-I love the whole beach vibe in this series. I just felt like I was there.

  8. OMG! I loved this series so much. It’s one of my favorites! Jenny Han’s writing is so wonderful in these books, that you actually feel like you’re going through everything with Belly. So be prepared to cry a few times (especially while reading the second book)! This series is one of those series where after you’re done one of the books, you need the next one like NOW, haha! So make sure you have them on hand. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I’ve heard so many good things about this book. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  10. I’m so glad you posted this review when you did! I am actually just about to start on it myself, and have been a little nervous/skeptical since I don’t usually read straight-up contemporary YA. So thank you for the glowing review- it has bolstered my confidence to get back into more contemporary stuff, and made me really excited to start on this one in particular! I feel I will be in the hands of a worthy author and look forward to more in the future!

    • Oh I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! I’ll tell you…Belly takes a little to grow on you. But the thing I LOVED about it was that it didn’t need to be incredibly shocking or dramatic or FLASHY to make you feel things and deliver a story you could relate to. It’s just honestly straight up good contemporary YA. Such a lovely story! Please email me/tweet/or comment back here when you finish! I’m dying to know what you think…esp about the ending!

  11. So glad you liked it! I was pleasantly surprised when I read this one (also because everyone else encouraged me too) because I am not a huge contemporary fan. I’ve read number two also, but haven’t gotten to three yet. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. This trilogy made me have all kinds of feelings. Really, they are such an emotional roller coaster.
    Hope you love the other two books!

  13. I read this one because Ginger convinced me I had to read it – and I definitely don’t regret it. I read it during the summer, which was the perfect atmosphere for it, and it definitely made me wish I had that kind of vacation house on the beach and those childhood friends that I’d spend the summer with. It made me feel nostalgic and warm and fuzzy and just happy reading this book, despite the heavy things that are in there.

    I can’t wait to read the second book (which I actually already have…. I should really get on that!)

  14. Oh my goodness, I need to read this so much. And I want to, I really want to.
    This is one of those facepalm/headdesk instances, though. Because I own books two and three, but now book one.
    (I’m completely making faces right now with my hands all in my hair and stuff. I keep forgetting to buy the first book!)
    I’m glad you liked it, though, because I LOVE and trust your opinion!

  15. I’m really glad you enjoyed this one! When I finally read it, I was so impressed with how much depth and characterization it had….definitely more than I expected.

    And I’m a sucker for the brooding too. Conrad <3

  16. Gah, I loved that you loved one of my favorite books. I love Conrad and basically this entire novel. I remember the first time I read it and now I have so many different versions of it.


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