Monday, June 14, 2010

Review: It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

Caution! May contain some spoilers if you haven't already checked out The Summer I Turned Pretty, out last summer!
Seriously, if you haven't read the first, don't keep reading this! (Wow, never thought I'd be discouraging people from reading my blog!)

Summary: Belly lives for summers. She spends part of the year yearning for the season, and the other part living it up in Cousins, at the loved Susannah's beach house with the boys, Conrad and Jeremiah, as well as Belly's mother and brother. Belly pretty much always knew she'd have to end up with one of the boys, and Conrad had always been the one she loved. But after Susannah's death, Conrad seems to be on another planet, causing Belly to say some things she wishes she could take back. To everyone, there is a deep hole left that Susannah can no longer fulfill. And then Conrad leaves, runs away, something very unlike anything he'd actually do. So when Jeremiah calls up Belly after not having talked to her since his mother's death, Belly jumps at the chance to help at all. All of this leads to long car rides, beach parties, and much needed confessions, especially between Belly and Conrad. But where does that leave Jeremiah?

Okay, I must say that I was a little bit disappointed in the second installment of this trilogy. In the first novel, Jenny Han blew me away. I could relate so much to Belly. In fact, there were times in my life when I was her, maybe even still. But it seemed to me that this was just a distraction for the final book, which I have high hopes for.
There was a lot more of Jeremiah in this book, something I appreciated. However, Conrad had less of a presence. And when he did show up, he was not much like I remembered, too different. I didn't really like him much here. But under the circumstance, I guess I understand. Steven was also missing, but it didn't seem to matter much. Memories were constantly being dredged up, and every single of of the summer boys, just as I had remembered from the first book, showed up there.
Jenny Han did a great job of encompassing the hurt that comes with death and loss, while also touching on the other ways people deal with grief-- Conrad, pushing everyone away, Jeremiah, trying to be the same as before, and Laurel, organizing and keeping busy to keep the hurt away.

Overall, I enjoyed this read, as well as the beautiful imagery, just not as much as before. Still, there were times where I could feel exactly what was meant.