Written by: Jenny Han
Released: May 5, 2009 by Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing
Summary: Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.
So I have a slight problem with writing this review. See, I’ve had this particular novel sitting on my shelf for over a year (whenever it came out in paperback) and once seeing the second novel in the series in paperback in the store (for 30% off!) I snatched that up. Then the third became available through Simon and Schuster’s e-galley... so within a few days I had all three sitting and begging to be read. To be honest, this is how I like to read my trilogies – completed. I hate having to wait a year between novels.
But the only problem is that I read all three books in just under three days. So by then (because it would have been smart to write the reviews before reading the next novel) I hadn’t done any reviewing and thus I’m in the know for everything that happens. So I’m going to try my hardest to stick to one book at a time and not bring in any knowledge from the next in the series.
At first I was so confused by this novel. Apparently I lack a bit of common sense and it wasn’t until I was several chapters in that I noticed the flashback chapters were noted by age underneath the chapter number. After I did make not of that, my confusion ceased and I was really able to get into the story. Then I just had to get over the fact that the main character went by Belly as a name... but whatever.
With Belly, it took me a while to get into her character. The flashback chapters didn’t help because it really made her seem more petulant than she was. If anything they magnified her childish moments while the story was in its current time. But, being the youngest of my cousins (on both sides pretty much) and having witnessed my older family members being forced to have me tag along, I could identify with Belly. I know that I was an annoying tyrant when I was younger and that I got away with a lot of things because of my age. Still, there were times when I wanted to slap Belly and tell her to grow up. I did have to remember, too, that she was only 15 at the beginning of this novel and celebrated her 16th birthday near the end.
Belly’s love for Conrad was one that I thought was sweet and pure and I really felt as though he were battling himself to not feel the same way. No guy is as protective as he was and not have feelings other than “familial” love. It’s just not possible. I was really hoping for something to develop between the two of them and I was so happy once it did no matter how small and fragile it was.
Then there was Jeremiah. As much as I could have seen him with Belly it just felt as though he wasn’t the one for her in that way. Sure, he was able to not be a pansy and let her know that he had feelings for her and he was there for her when she needed it, but he was too extravagant for Belly. Does that make sense? He was just too out there, too friendly, too extroverted where Belly was quiet and introverted. Still, he was a good second best for her, but would always be second best in my mind.
This book was so concreted in reality that I had a hard time believing that these characters weren’t real. This is proof of how amazing Jenny Han’s writing is. She was able to evoke this huge range of emotions as I was reading. I was laughing and crying and so annoyed at times. But most important was that nothing happened (in my mind) that didn’t fit with how a story like this would play out in real life. I will definitely read it again and pass my copy along to friends and family to read so long as they were going to return it. I’m giving this an 8/10. If you haven’t had a chance to read Han’s Summer series yet, you really should.