Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review: Summer Series by Jenny Han

Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, 2009, 2010, 2011; 276, 275, 291 pages; ISBN  0545230500, 1416995552, 1416995587
My Goodreads Ratings: 5 stars, 4 stars, 4.25 stars, respectively

Because I love romance books and love triangles are even better, I'm going to combine all of my reviews for the Summer books by Jenny Han here and just write up one big review for the whole series.  I first picked up on the series in 2009 when the first book came out, The Summer I Turned Pretty.  I won't lie.  The cover was definitely eye-catching and one of the reasons I picked up the book, but I was also intrigued by the title and by the author herself because I had so much enjoyed her earlier release for the pre-teen crowd called Shug (2006).  That year The Summer I Turned Pretty was one of the few books I gave 5 stars too (a rating I only reserve for books that I would re-read again).  The plot goes like this.  Belly (or Isabel) has been going to the beach house at Cousins Beach every summer since she can remember. Along with Belly, are her brother, her mom, her mom's best friend, and her mom's best friend's two sons, Jeremiah and Conrad. Summers are always the same, yet each year brings new changes that leave great impressions on Belly.  Belly has had a crush on Conrad for years, but he has always been the kind of boy that seems unattainable. Jeremiah on the other hand has always been sweet and loveable, in a friend-sort-of-way. The summer when she turns pretty is when most of the story takes place, but there are also chapters that flashback to other summers. 

Basically this first book sets up the story of Belly, the beach house, and her love for Conrad.  I loved the romance aspect of the book and how the author captures Belly's thoughts, concerns, and her love for Conrad, for being at the beach house, and for everything associated with her summers. There are some sad bits mixed in and I do agree that sometimes Belly does come off as whiny and bratty (a comment I've read time and time again from other readers/reviewers).  But.... that's the point.  She's a teenager and teenagers will behave this way no matter what.

The second book picks up after Conrad and Belly have broken up.  Yes. They finally date and it seems that Belly's prettiness has paid off (well, not just that, but you know what I mean).  But now Belly and Conrad's romance is over and Jeremiah comes looking for Belly because Conrad is missing and has dropped out of school (I admit, he's a real ass-hat in this book).  Plans to go the beach house for this summer are never definite (because of all of the sad parts that happened in book one and of course because Belly and Conrad have broken up) but now Belly heads that way with Jeremiah.  And of course that is where they find Conrad.  At first it's pretty awkward.  Belly is not only dealing with the Conrad drama, but also with a new detached attitude from her mom and hardly any support from her best friend Taylor.  Some of the chapters in this book are told from Jeremiah's point of view, so this book is much more about his feelings for Belly and how she gets over Conrad. Regardless I'm all for Team Conrad, even with his sour attitude. The ending of the book is kind of abrupt, it seems like Belly ends up with Jeremiah this time, but there is a little surprise at the end that keeps you hanging. 

When it came time to read the third book I really wasn't sure which way it was going to go.  I breezed through reading it because I just wanted to see who Belly ended up with already. In this book she's in college and has been with Jeremiah for the last two years. She is convinced that they are each others only true loves and that Conrad was just that first love that she will never forget. But as soon as Belly is near Conrad you see the effect he has on her. I don't want to give too much away for anyone that hasn't read the final book, but I will say that all in all I'm happy with the way things turned out.  Out of the three books, the first is still my favorite because to me it was the one that really captured the magic of summer at the Cousins beach house.  It bridged that time in a girl's life when she realizes that she's no longer an awkward, gawky kid and it revealed to Belly that Conrad was possibly not so unattainable after all.
I look forward to what comes next from Ms. Jenny Han - I love her writing and her books. I also made book trailers for all three books as I read them (the first one has the most views ever of all of my book trailers!).  Also, check out my other book trailers on my channel.

Photos: From website


  1. I just read this series about a month ago and I thought it was the perfect beach/summer read. :-)

  2. I love this series!!! I loved your review. It makes me want to re read it, like right this minute.

  3. These books are definitely perfect for the beach. If I didn't have a pile of books waiting to be read I would sneak them in and re-read them too!! Thanks for the comments ladies :)