A couple of years ago I read a popular called The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Hann … and I absolutely hated it. Like, I started reading this at midnight and finished it at 4am, fuelled on by my anger.
I’ve since taken every opportunity to bitch on this book every chance I get.
I am now having a full on existential crisis because I’ve just finished watching the TV show and I LOVED IT!! What the hell?!?! This is honestly the most unexpected thing that’s happened to me all year so we’re gonna talk about that today.
My original review:
I wasn’t planning on including my original review but somebody on Goodreads liked it the other day and reminded me of it’s existance so ya know what, here it is. Here is what 15 year old Elli thought when she read The Summer I Turned Pretty back in 2018:
What was the point of this book exactly?
I picked this us at 1am hoping it would stop me obsessing over how good my last read was and it did … but it also made me loose hope in 15 year old girls which is RIDICULOUS because I am literally a 15 year old girl!!!
I didn’t exactly expect this to be a 5 star read but it was just so boring! Nothing happened and I had so many problems with it.
Belly, the main character, is such a hypocrite and acts like a such a spoilt brat! She called her supposed ‘best friend’ slutty for being 14 and not knowing who she fancies exactly. She acted like such a child that I couldn’t tell the difference between present day Belly and the 11 year old version.
She kicks off when a boy doesn’t want to go skinny dipping with her and her first thought is ‘is he gay?’. No! He just doesn’t want to get naked with you rn. Then when Conrad invites a girl over she calls over said boy for the sole reason of making him jealous and then is so hypocritical!
Ugh! Just this book annoys me. I’m glad I read it, another YA classic has been ticked off my tbr but I just don’t get how this is so beloved. I doubt I’ll ever continue on unless its free and I’m super bored.
My thoughts on the TV Show:
Back when this TV show was first announced my first thought was “ugh I don’t want this but I’ll probably end up hate watching it anyways”. Slowly though, as the trailer was released, I found out the soundtrack would feature numerous and then heard actual good things, the reason I ended up watched it wasn’t out of hate, but actual intrigue.
I feel like the TV show took the bones of this story that I liked – the concept of childhood friends to lovers who spend their summers together – and got rid of what I didn’t like – namely Belly.
Book-Belly infuriated me. I remember feeling like she was so whiny, immature, border-line bratty and hypocritical. Even just her name being Belly irritated me. But I would DIE for TV-Belly. She’s adorable and sweet and just trying to have a mini glow-up and live her best summer outside of the shadow of her brother and the Fisher boys. I could easily believe that three guys fancied her in this show.
The main difference to me between the book and the movie was Cameron. Sweet, poor, Cam Cameron. My dude was used and abused in the book. Again, going off my shoddy memory, Belly kept that boy around just to make Conrad jealous and asked if he was gay when he didn’t want to go skinny dipping. In the TV show though their relationship really had that innocent teenage crush/first date vibes and when Belly realised she didn’t have that “spark” with him, SHE SAID SO! She didn’t string him along and this is yet more reasons why, to me, TV-Belly is superior.
Keeping on topic of the love interests. I’m Team Conrad 100%. I really don’t remember which Fisher brother I liked more in the book so I can’t speak to that but Conrad just hit different. “Bad-boy” love interests come off as arseholes most of the time but I didn’t get that from Conrad. I liked him when he was brooding and angsty – it was obvious there was a reason he was acting like that – and I liked him even more when he turned into “sunshine” Conrad. His little smiles and the way he was so soft spoken. *screams*.
I’m not Team Jeremiah in any way, shape or form though. Don’t get me wrong, I love him as a character he’s giving golden retriever and I really liked the addition of making his character bisexual in the series, but he’s giving me best-friend vibes more than love interest. Him being interested in Belly felt like it came really out of the blue. To me it felt like he only fancied her because he saw that Conrad liked her. Jeremiah developing feelings for Belly did lead to my favourite scene of the entire movie though: him almost blowing up Belly and Conrad with a firework. Was this meant to be funny? Probably not but I can’t stop laughing.
Other ways the show diverged from the book is that the romance wasn’t the only focus of the story – we saw Belly developing more female friendships, Steven feeling the pressures of being around rich kids, Conrad having a mentor of sorts, and the mums!
Parents don’t normally play a large roll in teen shows like this so I loved the fact that the mums, Susannah and Laurel, had their own storylines. They existed outside of their children – they weren’t just the “mums” but actual developed characters who had fun together, got stoned and had their own romantic problems. I loved all of their scenes!
I’m now really looking forward to Season 2. I can’t wait to hopefully see more of Belly’s newly formed friendships and have my heart broken by the Susannah storyline. I’m very happy that I don’t have to worry about it being renewed because the second season was given the green-light before the first was even out!
The problem now is that part of me thinks I should go read the series. On one hand I really want to know what happens, on the other hand though I just don’t think I’d like it. I think, if I do go back to the books, I might skip the first book (been there, hated that) and just crack on with books two and three but I’m not sure. Someone please tell me what to do!
So there we have my thoughts and feelings on The Summer I Turned Pretty. I’m super interested in what everyone else thought about this show.
I also really want to know if there’s an adaptation you liked WAYYY more then the book, as is the case with me and this series. Thanks for reading :))