Sunday, August 30, 2009

Enchanting Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty

Contemporary YA
Simon Pulse
ISBN# 978-1-4169-6823-8
276 pages
Hardcover – Available now

Rating: 3.5 Enchantments

Isabel, better known as Belly, always looks forward to summers. That’s when it’s time to relax, to swim in the pool or the ocean, to lay on the beach doing nothing. That’s when she, her brother Steven, and her mother drive to the beach house, when they spend three glorious months with loving Susannah and her sons Conrad and Jeremiah.

Brothers Conrad and Jeremiah have been there since the first summer. Just older than Belly, they always treated her like the baby, but despite the teasing, the three were pretty close. To Belly, they’ve been everything from best friends to unattainable crushes, and most definitely, people she could count on to be at the summer house when she arrived.

But this summer is different. Almost sixteen, Belly feels like she’s old enough to be included in the boys’ antics. She’s ready to make this summer perfect. But between Conrad’s moods, Jeremiah’s lifeguarding job, and Steven’s college road trip, there seems to be hardly any room left for Belly. But Belly can’t just give up; she’ll find a way to make this summer the way it should be.

THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY is a fast, fun, and at times moving story about life, love, and friendship. The story starts out none too originally, focusing on the highlights in Belly’s life, summers at the beach house. It predictably covers every corner of summer vacation: beaches, swimming, crushes, and parties. Even after the story gets going, nothing significantly differentiates this novel from other beach reads. It’s true that each main character is dealing with pain in their lives, but so do most characters in most novels. This lack of uniqueness made me feel like id already read pieces of the story before, albeit in a different novel. Despite that, the characters were, for the most part, realistic and believable, and I grew to understand and care about them even if I saw them reflected in countless other characters from summer stories. Belly is particularly likable, with her determination and desire to prove herself; flashbacks aided in defining her personality and background although it was difficult for me to keep track of when each segment of the story was taking place. Even though I feel this novel could have been vastly improved and even if I found the book’s ending deeply unsatisfying, I can’t deny that THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY is a sweet story abtou the fragility and beauty of life and the sacredness of first love.

Jenny Han lives in New York City, and THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY is her second novel. Her first is SHUG. She can be visited online at her website:

Rachael Stein
Enchanting Reviews
August 2009

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