The Summer I Turned Pretty is a light, fluffy summer read that follows Belly over the summer where everything changes. Jenny Han has perfectly captured the confusion and elation you feel when everybody else finally starts seeing you the way that you want to be seen. Belly has been the annoying younger sister who is excluded from the boys club every summer. But this summer the boys look at her differently, and she doesn’t quite know how to handle it.
The “present day” chapters are interspersed with flashbacks to previous summers, and I appreciated that we were taken on the journey of these memories, rather than just told quickly to fill in the blanks. Too often I feel like I’m getting the “last week on _____”, because the author didn’t feel like filling in the history of their characters. In these flashbacks, Jenny Han introduced us to Belly’s “best friend”, and I recognized her immediately. I’m sure you’ve met her. The “best friend” who is constantly dropping you for “better” things, and makes you feel less than because of the things that make you different. The best friend who you are probably just friends with because of your shared history and the title of best friend. The best friend who you probably won’t be friends with after high school because you won’t be thrown together anymore. And I found myself getting just as frustrated with her here as I did when I was friends with her in real life.
All in all, I enjoyed this book. The characters felt grounded in reality, and I recognized all of them. All of the conflicts were treated with respect, even the petty ones. Serious and trivial problems alike were given the real emotions that they take in reality, and the summer wasn’t tied up in a pretty bow. This book felt like summer vacation.