It’s no secret that season 1 of The Summer I Turned Pretty captivated the hearts of so many all over the world. It’s a coming-of-age series that young girls and adolescent boys can easily relate to, which is why we think it became so popular! We are not embarrassed to say that we watched all of season 1 of the show in one day. We were so hooked that we had to find out what happens next, so we dove into the sequel, It’s Not Summer Without You, and it surely does not disappoint!
Summary: Belly finds out what comes after falling in love in this follow-up to The Summer I Turned Pretty from the New York Times bestselling author of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Jenny Han.
It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come. But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started—at Cousins Beach.
Content Warning: Death, Grief, Familial conflict
You never know the last time you’ll see a place. A person.
— Jenny Han, It’s Not Summer Without You
It’s Not Summer Without You is a beautifully painful book. It perfectly defines “hurts so good.” To All The Boys author Jenny Han did an excellent job of portraying the reality of how trauma and grief can disrupt one’s life in different ways in this book. The title of the book undoubtedly says it all. As the characters are grieving the loss of their beloved Susannah, you will notice how they all handle their grief differently. You will witness the characters going through the five stages of grief, and it can be difficult to read and perhaps even triggering for some. However, this book can also be very comforting for someone currently mourning the loss of a loved one or who had this experience before. Especially a young girl like Belly who is just learning how to navigate life.
I will never look at you in the same way ever again. I’ll never be that girl again. The girl who comes running back every time you push her away, the girl who loves you anyway.
— Jenny Han, It’s Not Summer Without You
Relationship Woes & Growing Pains
Speaking of navigating life, it was heartbreaking reading about Belly and her relationship problems. It is evident that Belly and her best friend Taylor are on the rocks, but Belly’s grieving puts a strain on the relationship. At times it was frustrating reading It’s Not Summer Without You because Taylor was quite insensitive to Belly’s situation. It was also disheartening to see how Belly and Taylor would go after each other and throw low blows. This was a time when a girl truly needed her best friend, but that just wasn’t the case.
Not to mention, Belly spent the majority of the book going between Conrad and Jeremiah. These parts were quite emotion provoking as we wanted to jump in the book and shake Belly. Yet, it is understandable that Belly was having dating trouble because almost all young girls go through what Belly experiences in the book, but it was hard to see her not recognize her worth. Part of this issue is probably due to her being young and still having so much life to experience, but we are wishing the best for Belly in her love life with whomever she ends up with.
Furthermore, the most heart-wrenching points in the book involve Belly and her mom, Laurel. We can only imagine how difficult it must be to parent and mourn a close friend at the same time. We really applaud Jenny Han for realistically depicting what real family dysfunction looks like when tragedy hits. The most unexpected moment was when Laurel slapped Belly in the face during an argument, but we are glad they made up after.
We truly enjoyed reading It’s Not Summer Without You as the plot was interesting, and the character development was outstanding. Jenny Han also did an incredible job writing this book and kept us curious throughout our entire time reading it. We certainly cannot wait for season 2 to see all of these monumental moments play out on screen! If you want to delve into the It’s Not Summer Without You book, then you can grab your own copy here!
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