The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer#1) by Jenny Han

The Summer I Turned Pretty
(Summer #1)
By: Jenny Han

Some summers are just destined to be pretty.

When each summer begins, Belly leaves her school life behind and escapes to Cousins Beach, the place she has spent every summer of her life. Not only does the beach house mean home away from home, but her favorite people are there: Susannah, her mother’s best friend, and her sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. Belly has been chasing Conrad for as long as she can remember, and more than anything, she hopes this summer will be different. Despite distractions from a new guy named Cam and lingering looks from Conrad’s brother, Jeremiah, Belly’s heart belongs to Conrad. Will he offer his to her? Will this be the summer that changes everything?  – Goodreads

Expectations are a very dangerous thing. Its no secret for frequenters of my humble blog that I’m a huge fan of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. While the trilogy had its imperfections as it went along, it still had a lot of great moments much like the Netflix adaptations that still managed to capture the essence of the story from both a coming of age and teen romance angle. I’m not going to lie that the synopsis of The Summer I Turned Pretty wasn’t exactly capturing me a lot in the first place however, sometimes the actual read could give some surprises. The issue is that The Summer I Turned Pretty basically didn’t give me any surprises and was what I expected out of an average teen romance.

The Summer I Turned Pretty is pretty much a through and through teen romance. Its a little bit of coming of age and friendship but overall, its mostly focused around its main character Belly (short for Isabel) and her sweet sixteen summer. Belly is not a very captivating character, in fact as a main character from her point of view, it probably painted her out to be much more annoying than anything else. The deal is Belly has a certain grounded-ness, which is the good part like her insecurities as a teenager and trying to feel accepted in a group of friends. Those things worked in favor to her character however for the most part, she did make some pretty bad decisions or inconsiderate ones, although sometimes I feel that its my age reading this now that makes me see this more mature and this stuff is normal for someone at sixteen.

However, talking about the mature element, there are parts of this where Belly feels like she is more than sixteen in terms of how she views love itself and how she words certain things. Its a very odd character that’s been put together. Thing is, looking at the other characters, they feel even less fleshed out and while this inevitable love triangle between her and the brothers Conrad and Jeremiah, the two brothers also feel very lightly written and then the ending gives them a sudden shift.

This does bring us to the execution and structure for The Summer I Turned Pretty. The execution style is actually one that I do enjoy which creates something of a scrambled storyline as she talks about the current and then it links back to a past story regarding a younger self at the summer house vacation. Its meant to create context to give some depth for the story itself, which it does do for the most part. Even if the story itself doesn’t really feel that surprising most of the time, it still adds to the story itself to build up on the events that bring these characters together. That’s the main thing is everything is just about the events but never truly about the growth of the characters other than their expected growth due to getting older.

Overall, The Summer I Turned Pretty is very average. It all dials down to some rather lackluster characters stuck in a predictable teen romance situation. The best part of the story actually are the moments when its not about the romance and the vibe of how the summer house is with the two mothers and their kids in the little anecdotal chapters. Some of them show a rather heartwarming and positive family vibe. Its hard to talk about this one since it stands a bit in the middle. Considering the ending did feel like it had a resolution, it did feel self-contained which is a trait I love in books that are meant to be some form of series. In this case, I’m rather hesitant about reading the rest of the trilogy.

Goodreads score: 3/5

Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han

You can find the reviews of the previous two books:

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
P.S. I Still Love You

Always and Forever, Lara Jean
(To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before #3)
by: Jenny Han

Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding. But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to? – Goodreads

There’s something so grounded about To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before book series. Whether its about popularity or finding your place, dealing with family pains or facing your feelings or trusting your heart. On top of the teenage woes that are very much relatable or reminiscent, the array of characters are wonderfully well-written, especially our two main characters, Lara Jean and Peter. These love birds have gone through high school at this point and they are at the point where the next big stage in life is here and its a decision to choose to be together and how to do it so that both sides can face their own fears but still hold on to what matters to them and taking the leap of faith. College (or as I call it university in Canada) is a huge step which does have all these realistic ideas that insecurity comes into play and uncertainty also comes along as well making decisions that are true to what you like and accepting the disappointment of rejection and the joys of new doors opening. All this is so well-portrayed in Always and Forever, Lara Jean.

Jenny Han sculpts these two fantastic characters but also all the supporting ones are equally as engaging to read because the stories are not about just teen romance but also embodies a lot of other factors that create these characters including family and other factors. While this story does follow quite the expected storyline of love and loss, big decisions and disappointments that I mentioned before, it somehow feels even more grounded than its previous two stories and that is because through the last two books we’ve bonded with Lara Jean and suddenly these events she goes through feels very real as well. Its the beauty of reading really well-executed books that make them both incredibly fun to read but also have its fair share of heartbreak and heartwrenching decisions and the uncertainty of whether some decisions are worth it while other characters also end up getting this bigger part of their goals and motives that change the dynamic of the situation.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean is a really  great read. Its probably not as engaging as the first book but this one is much more grounded in a very real teenage situation and growing up and being able to making these tough choices. This trilogy has been solid through and through, bring alive some wonderfully colorful characters with still a decent amount of room for development and depth.

The books are now done

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Its felt like a while since I’ve dived into a YA and Romance novel. Separately, I’ve read each of those genres and nothing has really stood out in a while however, I’ve heard some good things about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before so I was pretty excited to check this one out and toss those doubts out the window and give this one a chance. I didn’t know that this novel was the first book of a trilogy. The third book will come out this year, so its time to check it out, I’d assume.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
(To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1)
By: Jenny Han

to all the boys i've loved before

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control. – Goodreads

There’s something so honest about reading To All The Boys That I’ve Loved Before that pulled me into the story right from the beginning. Its been a while that I haven’t been that immersed into a book. Jenny Han definitely has a nice touch with bringing the Song girls to life and particularly our main character here, Lara Jean. Usually, we get stories about being chased or wanting a guy really badly. This story takes a refreshing new angle of how when the boys she loved before learns about her feelings, particularly one that she shouldn’t be having feeling for and she decides to fake it with another guy she used to love both sides trying to find their own way out that she gets caught up in something she doesn’t really understand anything about.

Its important to realize, and its what makes this story great that love comes in many forms as we grow up. When we do encounter love the first time, it might not be so apparent to realize until an epiphany hits and that can come at any time. Regardless, it takes courage to let go of fear of being hurt to hop into a relationship, no matter how old, and its because of all this, that To All The Boys That I’ve Love Before truly grabbed me. It tugged a little at my heartstrings but also gave a lot of really fun and satisfying moments while also giving enough drama and friction to make it engaging to keep wanting to see where Lara Jean’s choices would lead it.

At the same time, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before also feels a bit like a teen comedy, something like The Edge of Seventeen or The First Time sort of thing, where its not only about the romance but also about Lara Jean’s personal growth as she embraces her feelings. People frequenting here probably hear me talking about that a lot, but thats because I always find the best stories, any kind of stories really, excel when they manage to create characters that change and grow. They learn to be a better form of themselves and the people that are around them contribute to them learning how to not be afraid to dig a little deeper in themselves and take chances which is exactly how Lara Jean’s character is. She’s not only smart and caring, but while she stays in her little space and doesn’t stand out, she learns how to break out of that shell and see her worth and find her confidence.

Overall, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was an absolute page-turner. To tell you  how much I loved it, I actually picked up the second book right away and have started reading it as this review goes live. I guess however, that this does take me to a final point which I always talk about in series and thats self-containment. This book literally ends on a cliffhanger, while I’m not a huge fan of that, it feels fairly obvious what her cliffhanger was leaning towards so it was a little easier to forgive. With that said, the book did so many things right and I loved how it was structured and written and the characters that I ended up giving it 5 stars on Goodreads, so I guess that shows how much I do love it.