The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 2009)
Some of Belly's best memories were made in the summer. Every June, she and her parents head to her mom's best friend's beach house and they stay until August. This summer, though, her dad isn't going and Belly's appearance has changed a lot since last summer. She's afraid that this summer will be different, that the two boys that she's know forever will be different. Jeremiah and Conrad have shared every summer with her but this summer everything changes.
The Summer That I Turned Pretty is filled with the nostalgia of summer and youth. Reading it, you can feel the sand between your toes and the rush of a summer night's kiss. Belly has had a crush on Conrad for most of her life, mostly just a silly little girl's crush on a boy who has been the hero of her summers. Jenny Han captures the innocence of a first love and the encroaching realities of adulthood. The part that I loved the most though was that Belly wasn't shaped by one talent. She plays tennis and she writes stories but neither of those things define her; more importantly, she's a girl in the middle of growing up, faced with tough decisions and the fear that this summer will irrevocably change her life for the worse. This is one of my favorite books of the summer because it so fully evokes the feeling of freedom and possibilities that summer brings. Plus, I wouldn't mind spending summers with Jeremiah and Conrad...