I have been meaning to read Jenny Han's Summer Trilogy for a while now, and since it's Summertime, and temperatures have been sky-high this year, I figured why not now? I have just finished all of them, and I must say that I was taken by the books and the characters. It was one of those instances when I just couldn't wait to finish the book to find out what would happen to them. No wonder these books were huge YA bestsellers.
"The Summer I Turned Pretty," is the first book, and sets up the whole trilogy. and is set in the time frame of one summer. Belly, (from Isabella) is the narrator, and she speaks with an honest young voice, and is never inauthentic. Sure, sometimes the narrative can be a bit annoying, but love her or hate her, she always sounds true. She paints a picture of a summer when she realizes that she is no longer a child, and starts develop feelings for a boy she summers with. At first, I was a bit concerned because the whole familiar relationships sound very close, and the attractions seem weird, but I can suspend disbelief for a good love story. But she, of course, falls for the dark, brooding boy, and you just say to yourself, "This won't end well." There's a darker storyline in the background, but the story never really goes there. But there is a sense of foreboding at the end of the book, though the overall tone is hopeful. I do feel that this book is the weakest of the three.
"It's Not Summer Without You" is my favorite. Han focuses more on the love story (ies) on this one. Belly has initially ended up with Conrad, but it is a fragile relationship. He breaks up with her after he takes her to prom, and it is devastating scene. I found myself empathizing with Belly, even though, personally I do not really approve of Conrad. Again, her we are with the brooding bit - he pushes her away over and over, and Jeremiah, the nice brother is there to catch her. Why wouldn't and shouldn't she fall in love with her. Conrad's mother has passed and perhaps he is just confused and is grieving, but in my opinion that is no excuse for the way he treats her. Again Han's writing is perfect, and I love it when the scenes get confrontational. We even get a glimpse of what Jeremy is thinking because some characters are told from his point of view.
"We'll Always Have Summer" rounds up the series. (for now?) Belly and Jeremy are together and happy, in the beginning. But of course, not for long. She finds out he has cheated on her once, and they both get devastated. So what do they do they deal with that? they decide to get engaged and marry. Of course, they are still essentially teenagers, so everyone is against the idea (including me) Things come to a hedge a day before the wedding, and...well, you can kind of guess who she chooses between the dark brooding mysterious brother versus the nice dependable (boring) one. I have been around the block so many times that I know who she *should* choose. But then there are the hopeless romantic in us, too. I do find that I am now too old to be hopeless. I can still be romantic, but not helpless anymore. One thing that struck me was that Belly remained a virgin. It just seems to unbelievable, as we have gotten to know her as very sensitive, and free-minded. If for anything, that is one more reason that she should not get married. You have to know what you want before you want it.
All in all, I love the series, and I have become attached to the characters. I also think there's still a lot in their stories that could be told. If Belly did stay with Conrad, I jut have one word for her: You in danger, girl!
BC - 63/64/65