Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Review: We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: April 26th, 2011
Grade rating: A
Belly has only ever been in love with two boys, both with the last name Fisher. And after being with Jeremiah for the last two years, she's almost positive he is her soul mate. Almost. Conrad has not gotten over the mistake he made when he let Belly go even as Jeremiah has always known that Belly is the girl for him. So when Belly and Jeremiah decide to make things forever, Conrad realizes that it's now or never--tell Belly he loves her, or lose her for good. Belly will have to confront her feelings for Jeremiah and Conrad and face a truth she has possibly always known: she will have to break one of their hearts.
Just reading the summary of this book makes me want to cry giant Conrad-shaped tears, before rugby tackling Jenny Han and giving her a hug to end all hugs. That woman put me through the emotional wringer with We'll Always Have Summer, and even though I was expecting that to happen, I wasn't expecting to want to face punch Jeremiah and elope with Conrad. My loyalties have lied with the latter since reading It's Not Summer Without You, but I've always had a place in my heart for lovely, thoughtful Jeremiah. I knew things wouldn't go smoothly for my beloved Belly, but did I think those.. those THINGS would happen?! Hell no I didn't!
Anyway, this is a very hard review to write without spoiling anything. Jenny Han gives you happy, rainbow-coloured things then rips them away before you've even managed to fully appreciate them. She sends you on a rollercoaster ride of ifs and buts, and makes you guess. Yes, GUESS! I got to the end and I was so emotionally drained that I had to have a lie down (actually, I was already lying down. It was 3am. It made me want to sleep). I felt bad and good for Belly, but I also wanted to rewind her life and live it all over again on one continuous loop. There is no contemporary YA series as amazing as this, and I never should have been worried about reading this final, long-awaited instalment. Jenny Han delivers in true epic Han style, and all I was left with was a great sense of loss. I feel like 3 of my BFFs have upped and left, leaving their story miles from finished. Of course, their story is finished (For now? Jenny, will there ever be more? Tell meeeee!), but dammit I could have read about these characters until they were 80-years-old and renting the Cousins beach house out to young whipper snappers experiencing a summer love for the first time.
OH! And don't even get me started on the letter. The letter that Belly reads. If you've read this book you must know which letter I'm talking about. The most heartbreaking of compositions, written for a much-loved girl on the most important day of her life. I bawled my eyes out reading it for the first time, and again for the second and third (Yes, I went back and put myself through the misery and ultimate happiness a couple more times). I'm happy with how things ended, I really am. It might not have been what I expected or hoped for, but I'm happy. Belly's happy, so obviously I am too. Ahh, that girl.
What I'm really trying to say is that every female reader and lover of YA should read this series. Jenny Han's a certified genius, and she inspires me to write these crazy reviews that make me sound like I've just downed 10 cups of coffee. For the record, I don't like coffee, this is all pure book love you're reading here. Aside from my extreme sadness upon turning the final page of We'll Always Have Summer, I was also left with an urgent desire to re-read the whole series, starting with The Summer I Turned Pretty. I've since got the first 2 books out of storage and they're waiting to be summoned. The Summer series might just be my new summer reading ritual, and I can't think of a better group of fictional people to spend the long hazy nights with. Thank you Jenny Han for making me want to live in yet another fictional world. If that was your intention, then you succeeded with many ribbons and flying colours. If only the pages of a book were big enough to jump into, I'd be at the Cousins beach house right about now!