Although I enjoyed the Burn for Burn series, it wasn’t what I would typically expect from Jenny Han. I first fell in love with her writing when I read Shug. [Sidebar: I cannot believe that was NINE YEARS ago!] I went on to adore the Summer I Turned Pretty series and frequently recommend it to readers who are looking for an author similar to Sarah Dessen. Even though Jenny Han’s stories fall on the lighter side of YA, I can’t help but use words like “honest” and “raw” when I describe her characters. I love the fact that Han’s characters face problems that a majority of tweens and teens can relate to — and the mom/librarian in me especially appreciates her multidimensional female characters. When this book showed up on the library hold shelf on the same day that I finished Ashes to Ashes (Burn for Burn, book 3), I took it as a sign and bumped it to the top of my book pile!
Lara Jean has fallen in love many times, but that doesn’t exactly mean she has had much dating experience. Instead of dating those boys, though, she skipped straight from falling in love to letting them go. And, in order to let them go, she wrote a love letter of sorts. Whenever she wrote to one of the boys she loved, Lara Jean always wrote honestly and held nothing back [because she knew that the boys would never really read the letters]. She’d planned to simply keep all of the letters in the hat box her mom gave her to hold her special and/or secret items. The fact that she chose to include the name and address of each boy on the front of the envelope, nevertheless, proved to be rather unfortunate. After the hat box mysteriously disappeared from her closet and the letters were all “accidentally” mailed out, Lara Jean ended up agreeing to be in a fake relationship to avoid her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh — to whom she had written one of the most recent letters. But how is a girl supposed to know whether her fake boyfriend is actually flirting or just putting on a good show? And what should she do if she starts to think she might have feelings for him? The book ended a little too abruptly for my liking, so it’s a good thing there is a sequel — P.S. I Still Love You — that came out at the end of May. 😉
Let me just start off my review by stating that I refuse to read any further books if this trilogy suddenly becomes a series with four or more books, like The Selection. As far as I am concerned, this trilogy is complete, there is no more story, and Jenny Hand and Siobhan Vivian should leave it alone! 😉 (Who am I kidding? I’m sure I would eat it up if they published anything else because I tore through these books!) Oh… And there is one other thing I would like to clarify before starting my actual review. Some people might start reading the first book and think the “sci-fi/fantasy” classification is unjustified. Even at the end of the first book, I was a little unsure if the supernatural element was quite enough to justify being in the “sci-fi/fantasy” section of the Teen Area. But, trust me when I say that it will make sense if you keep reading. Continue reading
Belly’s first love was Conrad Fisher. The only problem is that Conrad wasn’t in the habit of returning that love. He broke her heart over and over again. So, when Conrad realized that his younger brother Jeremiah loved Belly too, he made the conscious decision to let her go. He knew that Jeremiah would always do right by Belly and that giving her up was the best way for Conrad to show his love for her. But when Jeremiah proposes to Belly during her freshman year of college, neither Belly nor Conrad are sure what they really want to do about their feelings for one another. You will need to start at the beginning of the series [The Summer I Turned Pretty] to fully understand what is going on, but I can’t imagine NOT wanting to read the whole series anyway!
Happy Summer Reading!
Belly Conklin has always spent summers at the beach house in Cousins. It’s pretty crazy with so many people there — Belly, her mom [Laurel], her brother Steven, her mom’s best friend [Susannah], and Susannah’s boys Conrad and Jeremiah — but she can’t imagine summer any other way.
In The Summer I Turned Pretty, we found out that Susannah had cancer. The beginning of this book, sadly, broke the news that she died. Nothing is the same without Susannah — least of all summer. A summer spent away from Cousins hardly feels like summer at all, and Belly doesn’t really know how to face the prospect of an entire summer spent away from Conrad and Jeremiah. A lot of this book is spent reflecting back on the previous year and explaining how everyone dealt with Susannah’s death. And, yet, there was still enough forward movement and character development that I didn’t feel like the story was stalled. I loved so much about this book, but I feel like I would be spoiling the whole thing if I said much more… I think it would be sufficient to say that I immediately went to the library and requested the next audiobook in the series when I finished!
I read this book last summer and just now realized I had never posted a review about it because I was talking about how much I was looking forward to reading the sequel, It’s Not Summer Without You. Well, I can’t just leave it that way! So, I am going to do my best to do this book justice even though it’s been so long since I read it — after refreshing my memory by reading a few reviews in Publisher’s Weekly, SLJ and VOYA, of course! (LOL)
Belly’s mom and her best friend, Susannah, have always shared a beach house and the responsibilities of raising their children during the summer. Susannah’s boys, Conrad and Jeremy, have always treated Belly pretty much the same as her brother, Steven, did. She was just “the annoying little sister,” as far as the boys were concerned. But, things change the summer Belly turns 16. Suddenly, life at the beach house is not so simple. Conrad and Jeremy have begun to look at her differently, and Belly’s not sure how to handle her evolving feelings for the boys, either.
Han creates a very lovable and believable character in Belly, much like she did in Shug. Readers can’t help but root for Belly as she works through the self-consciousness and confusion that come with adolescence. This summer romance has a bit more substance than some, but definitely not so much that it gets bogged down or boring.
Jenny Han sure knows how to write about tween angst… You know: How it feels to start liking boys. How it feels to know your big sister is prettier and more popular than you. How it feels to like a boy when he can look at you and not even *see* you.
12-year-old Annemarie — a.k.a. “Shug” — seems to be a typical tween girl. Her family seems to be the typical Southern family. Her friends seem to be typical. Blah, blah, blah… Why bother to read the book, right? Well, it suddenly seems that everything is changing, because Annemarie is becoming more aware of the people around her — and herself. As we follow Annemarie through her first year in junior high school, she has to come to grips with “crushing on” a long-time friend, deal with her family’s imperfections, and figure out whether popularity is more important than self-respect and being nice.
I actually listened to the unabridged audiobook for Shug, narrated by Liz Morton. I LOVED THIS GIRL’S VOICE! I could not have imagined a more “Shug” girl if I tried. The best part about Liz is how she does the other characters — the “deep” voices of the tween boys, the slow southern drawl of neighborhood women, or the upbeat, peppy sound of Shug’s teenage sister, Celia. Audiobooks are great for road trips, “reading” while you do your chores, or even for reading along with a paper book. I highly recommend that you check one out at your local library — especially since it’s free!