Received: At the library
Rating: 4.5/5.0 stars
Every summer since she was born, the main character, nicknamed Belly, spends her summer at a beach house with her mother, her brother Steven, her mother’s best friend Susannah, and Susannah’s two sons Jeremiah and Conrad. From the beginning of the book, it is apparent that Belly has had a crush on both Jeremiah and Conrad, but claims that this summer things are going to be different. When her family arrives at the beach house, it becomes clear that Belly has “grown up” and that, as the title states, this is the summer she’s turned pretty. It’s not as though she wasn’t pretty before, but she’s blossomed into a young woman and has embraced that.
This story is told from Belly’s point of view, including chapters from the present and then various chapters from when she was different ages. I liked that this type of format was used because it allows readers to get brief glimpses into Belly’s past, while interweaving current information into the story. The only critique I have about this style though is rather than going in numerical age order, it jumps around, which can make the story a little confusing. We learn that, as a child, Belly was very close with Susannah and the boys. Yet, she also would often feel left out from the “boys only” type of group. As she gets older though, she tries to fight for her right to be in the group.
This summer though, things are different (aside from Belly turning pretty). Conrad seems uninterested in everything going on, Steven is leaving the beach house early to check out colleges with his father, and all in all, things are different. Readers will see that Belly has feelings for both Jeremiah and Conrad, but like most teen girls, doesn’t really know what to do about it. When she meets a handsome, smart new guy, she decides to turn her attention on him. Although indirectly, there is jealousy felt between Belly and Jeremiah and Belly and Conrad. Throughout the book, readers will wonder who Belly will end up with, if anyone at all.
Initially, I thought this book would just be a light-hearted, perfect summer book. Although it was, it also was so much more. There are family issues in Belly’s life and also family issues in Jeremiah and Conrad’s lives. Belly’s experience growing up into being a young woman and her coming-of-age story is strong. Life isn’t as easy as it might seem, just because they are at a beach house. By the end of the book, readers will have a clear understanding of why each character acted the way he or she did throughout the whole book. As a side note, I really thought I knew what was going on in the story, but was surprised by the end of the story, so that was a plus. I was pleased with the ending, but it definitely made me wanting more, so I’m looking forward to reading the sequel. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect coming-of-age, intriguing story that screams SUMMER.