Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Review: It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster US
Released: April 27th, 2010
Grade rating: A-
Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach? 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. 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.
Firstly, if you haven't read The Summer I Turned Pretty, where have you been?! If you like YA realism, romance and drama, it should have a permanent place on your shelf. Honestly, it's a brilliant read, and I loved every page of it. Which is why I was ridiculously excited to read the sequel, It's Not Summer Without You. Though it wasn't *quite* as amazing as the first book, it came very close. Very close, indeed.
It's Not Summer Without You doesn't start immediately after its predecessor. Some time has passed, and it's now the end of Belly's Junior school year. She should be on her way straight to Cousin's Beach, but previous events and circumstances have prevented that. Instead, she gets ready for a boring summer at home, without lifelong friends Jeremiah and Conrad, aka Beck's boys. I felt so sorry for Belly after the first couple of pages, because I know just how much summer at the Cousin's house means to her, and how important the boys are. Jenny Han sure knows how to tug at those heartstrings, and I teared up many times throughout this book. It's very sad in parts, and anyone who's read it will know exactly what I'm talking about.
I can't go into great detail about the plot without spoiling The Summer I Turned Pretty, but rest assured it's heartbreaking and realistic, and completely addictive. The boys are back with a vengeance, and Belly has some tough choices to make; choices that will both frustrate and excite you at the same time. It's YA romance at its best, but not in the fluffy sense - it's much deeper than your average girl-likes-boy story.
Han's writing comes alive on the page and flows so easily, like a constant stream. She knows how to write her teenagers, and that shines through with every single word. She knows teenagers do stupid things, make rash decisions and deal with things differently. So instead of just making her male characters perfect and untouchable, she shows their screw-ups and their flaws. If anything, it makes them that much hotter, and that much more attainable. My boy allegiance did waver every now and then, when I thought Conrad was being an idiot for a couple of chapters. I was soon back on his side, though, and I've decided that he will always be my favourite of Beck's boys.
The final page of It's Not Summer Without You has actually left me on edge, and I don't know how I'm going to last the almost year-long wait for the final book in the series. I really hope there's a support group somewhere, because I'm going to need one. And while we're drowning our summer sorrows, how about we induct Jenny Han into the YA hall of fame? She so deserves a star with her name emblazoned on it.