Why read about the summer of two old friends dealing with cancer and divorce at their summer home, when you can read about what their kids are doing instead?
Okay, so I think this entry might appeal to the twenty-something’s more than the forty-something’s, but what are you going to do? I had the opportunity to go to Florida last week, and had an amazing time riding my bike and getting some sun. I’d say “and catching up on reading,” except I do that constantly anyways. But I did allow myself the gooiest brain candy I could find, in the form of the young adult novel The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. It’s a coming of age gem about a girl who visits her mother’s friend’s summer home every year, along with her brother, and her mother’s friend’s two sons (get all that?). Belly (Isabel) always had a crush on the oldest brother, Conrad, and although most summers he treated her like a kid sister, Belly’s 15 now, and this summer things are a little different—now he completely ignores her. But that’s progress, right? The first person perspective of a slightly awkward and endearingly whiney Belly makes this book so deliciously nostalgic, it’s like I remember being there—except I never was. But isn’t that what we want a book to do? The sun, angst, and likable characters make this an excellent beach read—trust me.
Now, on to my cryptic first sentence. While we have Belly doing her teen thing, we also get glimpses of the two moms also spending the summer at the beach home. But that’s all we get—glimpses. I feel like there could be an excellent companion book for the moms about how the two best friends spend their summer. There is a world of heartbreak and summer moments of their own—the reader of The Summer I Turned Pretty is only able to get a quick peek every few pages. But that just adds to the reality of the book—Belly is a teen who sometimes sees her mom having a memorable summer while Belly’s doing her own thing somewhere else. I would like to see Jane Green or Anita Shreve pick up the pieces of the mothers’ story in The Summer I Turned Pretty and do something fantastic with it.