A number of authors have recently been confirmed for TBF 2012, so head over to the official TBF website right now to check out the growing roster. One of the recently added authors, and a TBF alum, is Jenny Han, the author of “Shug,” “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” “It’s Not Summer Without You,” and “We’ll Always Have Summer.”
Contemplative and endearing, “The Summer I Turned Pretty” is the perfect contemporary YA read for anytime of the year, but especially for summer. Belly lives for summer. For her, the other nine months of the year are nothing more than days that she can’t be at the beach house with her family and her mother’s best friend, Susannah, and her two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. But one summer changes everything for the two families and as the events of the summer unfold, Belly grows and matures and develops new relationships with the people who have always been there for her during her summers at Cousins Beach.
It really is the setting and the quality of the characterization and relationships that make “The Summer I Turned Pretty” as wonderful as it is. Han has created a summer paradise that feels so real and genuine – Belly’s beach house is not a McMansion on the Jersey Shore where teens party like it’s Spring Break in Cancun. Cousins Beach feels simple, and welcoming, and beautiful, but still rustic. Reading “The Summer I Turned Pretty” makes you feel like you’re laying in bed on Cayuga Lake with a cool breeze blowing through the window and the sounds of the waves lapping against the shore roaring comfortingly below.
As for the characterization and the relationships of the characters, Belly, Conrad, and Jeremiah are as real as it gets. I’ve heard complaints that Belly is annoying, or selfish, or immature, but it’s Belly’s raw realness that makes the book so genuine. Belly makes the same mistakes that all teenagers make and she has the same thoughts, and worries, and feelings that all teenagers have. I should also add that “The Summer I Turned Pretty” flashes back to summers of Belly’s past, when she was twelve, eleven, ten, and even younger, and those chapters are as spot-on as the rest.
Summer is coming to an end (I know, I know! Don’t think too hard about it!), but before you submit to the cooler temperatures and turned leaves of fall, let summer live on a little bit longer by borrowing “The Summer I Turned Pretty” from your local library and living vicariously through Belly.