This winter, make time to read ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’

Dec. 21, 2023

By Isabella Apple
Staff Writer

Summer has always been a season of happiness for Isabel “Belly” Conklin and the Fisher boys, but life gets more complicated the summer Belly turns 16.

“The Summer I Turned Pretty,” the first book in a trilogy by Jenny Han, is set in Cousins Beach, a fictional seaside community where Belly, her brother Steven and her mother Laurel stay at the Fisher family’s beach house. Cousins Beach symbolizes hope for Belly because it means she will have time with her crush, the older Fisher son, Conrad. However, with Conrad acting moody and peculiar, Belly turns her attention to the more outgoing, younger Fisher brother, Jeremiah.

“The Summer I Turned Pretty” is a satisfying read for anyone who enjoys the young adult romance genre. Readers will be drawn into Belly’s predicament as she wrestles with genuine feelings for both brothers. 

Another interesting aspect of the novel is the friendship between Laurel and Susannah.

Belly is a likable protagonist, but readers will find fault in her self-centered nature and how unfairly she treats her love interests. Entertaining the possibility of romance with both of them, she creates friction in the house and conflict between the brothers.

Adding to the book’s tension is a secret about mother Susannah Fisher’s health and recent divorces in both the Conklin and Fisher families. Belly, Conrad, Jeremiah and Steven all face internal struggles, and while they demonstrate resilience, they also hurt their loved ones in the process. They are all realistic depictions of teens who go through hard times and handle challenging circumstances beyond their control.

Another interesting aspect of the novel is the friendship between Laurel and Susannah. Their unbreakable bond is so strong, and Laurel is scared to lose the adult she loves most in the world. Meanwhile, Susannah tries to savor every moment by painting portraits and throwing an Independence Day party that goes terribly wrong.

With romance, family conflicts and a fun setting, this coming-of-age novel has it all. Winter may be just around the corner, but if you are looking for a book with summer vibes and sophistication, give this entrancing novel a read.

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