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Summer Series by Jenny Han Book Review

Reasons For Reading This Series:

Have you ever been in a reading phase where you just want to binge a series? Well if you have then you will know the feeling I got when I saw that Amazon Prime Video was releasing a series based on Jenny Han's Summer Book Series. I knew I wanted to watch the show, so prior to watching the show I read the series. I also wanted to see if the books and show lived up to what I was seeing people say about it on social media. The series includes the three books: The Summer I Turned Pretty, It's Not Summer Without You, and We'll Always Have Summer

As I am reviewing all the books there are spoilers. 

Content of the The Summer I Turned Pretty:

Every summer Belly, her older brother, Steven, and her mom Laurel spend the whole summer in Cousins, a beach town, with her mom's best friend, Susannah, and her two sons Conrad and Jeremiah. This is a coming of age novel where Belly battles her feelings for the brothers. Conrad is the older more mysterious and serious of the two. Jeremiah is the funny and attentive one. Belly arrives to the summer house looking more grown up, but has she really matured over the last year. Read to see how this summer plays out. 

What I Liked About The Summer I Turned Pretty:

I enjoyed getting to know all the characters in this book. Because this book is the first of the series the author sets it up for each character to experience growth from the start of the series to the end. The inclusion of the past summer memories was a strategic choice to show the reader how the characters got to this point in their lives. The retelling of past summer memories reminds me of how families and friends speak on vacations. With all of the books in the series they are easy and quick reads. The plot kept a steady and interesting pace from the start all the way until the end. I found myself sucked right into Cousins from the start of the book. I hands down think this is the best book in the three book series. The author describes how Belly's love for each boy is different. I loved the summery, beachy, and laid back feel this book gave. I feel like no matter your age you can find something to relate to in this book. For me its the yearly summer beach vacation. 

What I Disliked About The Summer I Turned Pretty:

As someone who is older and has a better understanding of relationships it was frustrating to continue reading about Belly's immature actions and mistakes, but I had to let her make them as this is a coming-of-age book. Other than that I do not have much that I disliked about the first book. 

Content of It's Not Summer Without You:

Summer turns to fall. Belly and Jeremiah return to high school. Conrad and Steven start college. Conrad is distancing himself from everyone because Susannah is sick again. Everything that was good from the summer is no more. Jeremiah and Belly go on a search for Conrad after he disappears from college. The three end up back at the Cousins beach house. With this possibly being their last days at the house they want to be there together. 

What I Liked About It's Not Summer Without You:

I liked that in this book all the characters were raw with their emotions and displayed different phases or ways of grieving. It is important to show how everyone grieves differently. One of Jenny Han's literary choices for this book was to recount memories instead of telling them as they were happening. So as you read about what is happening currently at the summer house, you are also learning about what has happened since the summer has ended. I somewhat agree with the choice to do it because it does give the narrator the chance to reflect on it, but its also annoying to have the part of the plot that interests you be the past and not the present. 

What I Disliked About It's Not Summer Without You:

At this point in the series I was so over Belly's continuing to chase after Conrad's love. I was totally repulsed by his actions. I was sick of Belly continuing to talk about wanting him when to the reader he so clearly not interested. In my head I kept screaming at her, 'he's not interested, get over it!!' This book also felt like a filler book with very little significance to the plot. It also had a somber and depressing vibe compared to the first novel, which is something I was not expecting from this series when I initially started it. I was expecting light drama and emotions. 

Content of We'll Always Have Summer:

After dating for the past two years Belly has chosen Jeremiah Fisher to be her forever. But is she really ready to get over her lifelong crush and love for Conrad? Is he ready to never love her that way ever again? Jeremiah wants to be with Belly forever, but does she want to be with him forever? Conrad has one last chance to say how he feels after letting her ago just two years ago. With choosing one, she will break the others heart. Read to see who wins her heart in the end. 

What I Liked About We'll Always Have Summer: 

I absolutely loved the inclusion of Jeremiah's and Conrad's narration. Having the added perspective of the Fisher boys' in this final book gave the read clarity on how they have felt over the past books and how they felt presently. It also gave the read a perspective of Belly that would not have been included if not for another narrator. I didn't love the fighting between Belly and her mom, but I get that it is a part of growing up and important to include that as we grow our relationships also have to evolve and change. Even though I hate seeing people fight I can appreciate the importance of this storyline. 

What I Disliked About We'll Always Have Summer:

This might be controversial to say, but I am not the hugest fan of Belly as a narrator. I did not find her to be annoying/unlikeable until the third book. Up until this point her narration was tolerable. But with her coming of age phase supposed to be over I would have expected her maturity to have also evolved as she aged. I was not interested or at all excited about the wedding planning going on in this book. I found it annoying and a way to distract from the fact that Belly ultimately wanted to end up with Conrad. I was left frustrated and unsatisfied with the ending of the series. I was expected more romantic over-the-top gestures or actions that would make me truly believe that they were equally in love with each other. I found Belly's chase to be exhausting and not wrapped up well. The author dragged out the wedding plot line too much in this book and too quickly wrapped up the ending between her and the chosen brother. 

My Thoughts on The Summer I Turned Pretty Amazon Prime show:

First of all, contrary to my understanding, you do not need to read the books to watch/like/understand the show. I actually think of the two as two totally different pieces of work at this point. There are major plot points in the show that are completely different than the book. I liked the show and books for different reasons. I have already explained what I liked and disliked about the books. Now here is what I liked and disliked about the show. I am interested to see if and how the next season of this shows turns out. With Steven and other characters from the first book not being as prevalent in the second, and third, I am interested to see if and how they are incorporated into a second season. 

What I Liked About the Show:

I think the casting choices were spot on. The actors looked just how I pictured them to look. The Cousins house and beach town also looked just like how I pictured them from the book's descriptions. The interactions between the character's were accurate to the book. I really liked the sound track of this show. It was fun to hear both current pop songs and other iconic songs. I think Jeremiah and Conrad acted exactly as they did in the books making the viewer want to choose #teamconrad or #teamjeremiah. I am on the fence about whether or not I liked more focus being on other characters and their stories. I think I liked it for a show only because some storylines were more interesting than others.

What I Disliked About the Show:

I do not agree with the inclusion of the deb ball plot into the show. I think it distracts from the real plot of the book. It also takes away from recreating other scenes from the book. I read the Jenny Han included this in the plot of the show to symbolize Belly's coming-of-age that summer. I think showing Belly go from making immature choices to mature choices would have been enough to show her coming-of-age. I was not a fan of Laurel's added story line in the show. In my opinion it took the focus away from it being Belly's coming-of-age story and focused on Laurel's transformation after divorce. I much preferred reading about the moms from the teens perspective. I also was not a fan of Cleveland and Conrad's storyline. I get that it was a way for Conrad to show responsibility and to look to Cleveland for advice, but it felt pushy and not natural to the plot from the book. 

Check out my book reviews for 2022!!

Check out my book reviews for 2021!!

Check out my book reviews for 2020!!

Check out my book reviews for 2019!!


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