The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

summer-i-turnedCindy: We can’t let any more summer slip away without blogging this perfect beach read. Lynn and I are both fans of Han’s first book, Shug, about a 7th grade girl grappling with middle school and the transition from child to adolescent. The Summer I Turned Pretty (Simon & Schuster, 2009) features an older girl, Isabel, (Belly to her family and friends) navigating the next passage from adolescent to young woman. Belly spends every summer at the beach with her mom and older brother at her mom’s best friend Susannah’s beach house. This sixteenth summer is different. Belly is growing up. She’s self-conscious in her bikini and while still crushing on older Conrad, her feelings for his brother (both Susannah’s sons) and a local boy confuse her. As in Shug, Han nails the emotions and the dynamics at play in the relationships, and the mood is palpable throughout the story. A secondary plot involving Susannah’s health is just that, secondary. It’s Belly and the boys that will keep the pages turning and have readers remembering (or wishing for) summer loves. If you like to listen to tunes while you read, check out Han’s playlists for each of her books, posted on her fun website. And, good news: this book is the first in a trilogy. I can’t wait to read what happens next for Belly.

Lynn: Oh that gorgeous unattainable older boy! Han gets the feelings just right – the yearning, the anguish – and the hope when he notices just for a moment. Belly has spent her summers tagging along whenever possible, watching when she can’t and worshiping Conrad all the while. This summer is different. Belly has changed from awkward to head-turning and her exploration of that power is an especially well-done part of the story. Now the boys notice her, something she has longed for, but the story doesn’t play out quite the way Belly dreamed it so often. Han’s quiet book does so much – the setting is just right. I could feel the sand and taste the salt in the air. Her characters are nuanced and drawn so well they feel like family friends. As Cindy says, however, it is the beautifully depicted relationships where Han’s writing shines most. Hand this to just one high school girl and she’ll be giving it to all her friends. This is a beach book with grit.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han"

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  1. khlifv@vhj.com' lol says:

    I Love This Book! It’s a MUST Read!!! xx ENJOY 🙂

  2. lululuvshim@aim.com' lala says:

    this is a must read i am on the third book, its like addicting you cant make youself put in dowm. i wish it was made into a movie its that amazing.

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