Book Review: It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

"There are moments in life that you wish with all your heart you could take back. Like, just erase from existence. Like, if you could, you’d erase yourself right out of existence too, just to make that moment not exist.”

--Jenny Han, It's Not Summer Without You

Jenny Han, the New York Times bestselling author of To All the Boys I've Loved Before, returns with a follow-up to The Summer I Turned Pretty, where Belly discovers what happens after falling in love.

Synopsis from Goodreads...

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.

My reaction to this novel...

Okay, I promised myself I wasn’t going to finish this story since I was so annoyed with Belly. I still don’t like her character here, but because I admire Jenny Han, I tried to read the first chapter. And, believe it or not, I did not anticipate to finish this sequel. It was because I burst into tears when I learned what happened to Susannah. Jenny Han’s words during this scene made my heart ache with every syllable and paragraph she wrote. She had once again grabbed my heart on that part. Even still, I maintain my dislike for Belly.

Yes, I’m still certain that I don’t like Belly’s love life, even a bit, because it was bothersome. In addition to her age giving the story a certain air of immaturity, the fact that she was a little flippant made me think of her as shallow and lacking in character. She was extremely receptive and did not convey to people around her any sense of self-control. Perhaps it’s simply that I’m getting older, but I find it upsetting when female characters act horribly. To put it frankly, Belly is irritatingly immature. Even though she is still in love with Conrad, she leaps right in when she has the first chance to kiss Jeremiah. Even while she has always known that she truly loves Conrad, something about getting kissed by Jeremiah seems to have changed her mind about her so called love for Conrad. I disliked it again and again.

It takes a while for this novel to get going, and by the time the history is through and there is actual action, you are already fairly far into the story. I didn’t believe the two-person point of view offered anything to this one, and the back and forth didn’t function as well as it did in the first. Despite the fact that I adore Jeremiah in this book, knowing what goes through his head is not a super wow factor for me. Conrad ought to have been the other standpoint if there was to be one.

Conrad irritated me just as much as Belly did. Regardless of how he feels, he fails to connect with or engage with his family. It is very typical of manly characteristics. His equanimity amplified the drama. Because of what happened to his mother, I understood his sentiments, but it got stressful when he felt that way throughout the book. He irked me as well, I must admit.

This same, overused plot has grown old to me. It is completely improbable. Although I believed the plot would be stronger in the second book because I did enjoy the scenes in which Belly and her mother clashed, and I really cried when I read what happened to Susannah. But no matter how high my expectations were raised, this novel always let me down. Though I love Jenny Han, I’m debating whether to finish the last book in the series because this installment was so disappointing. I’m not sure how to recommend it.

My Overall Rating: ⭐⭐✨(2.5/5)


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