Last year, all of Belly’s dreams came true and the thought of missing a summer in Cousins Beach was inconceivable. But like the rise and fall of the ocean tide, things can change– just like that. Suddenly the time she’s always looked forward to most is something she dreads. And when Jeremiah calls to say Conrad has disappeared, Belly must decide how she will spend this summer: chasing after the boy she loves, or finally letting him go. (From Goodreads.com)
While I liked The Summer I Turned Pretty well enough, I have to be honest and say the main character, Belly, irritated me to distraction. I loved everything else about the book, the setting, the surprising depth, the romance of summer and for these reasons I was prepared to give Jenny Han’s summer books another chance and read sequel, It’s Not Summer without You. I’m glad I did because I found this time round Belly was far more palatable and I enjoyed the book immensely.
We join Belly several months from the last book and about to embark on another summer. Only this time things have changed. The thing all the characters were dreading has happened and not only has Belly lost her much loved Susannah but also her link to the beach house at Cousins and the boys, Jeremiah and Conrad. And despite the previous book ending with a fledgling romance between Belly and Conrad, things aren’t working out as they’d hoped as he becomes more and more distant and Belly is left feeling distraught. But when Jeremiah calls to say Conrad needs help, Belly’s there without question.
Where The Summer I Turned Pretty evoked images of the perfect summer and endless possibilities, It’s Not Summer Without You has the feeling of the end of an era, growing up and discovering who you are. It’s sad and poignant and beautifully written. Once again I found Han’s writing very readable but with unexpected depth, even more so in this book than the first, which makes her books less fluffy than you may imagine from looking at the cover alone.
Again, It’s Not Summer Without You is told from Belly’s perspective with flashbacks to previous summer memories. This time however we get to see Jeremiah’s perspective now and then and I have to say I like him even more than I did before! The deteriorating relationship between Belly and Conrad is excruciatingly painful. I hated Conrad’s treatment of Belly at times, though could understand it…sometimes she expects far too much from people. Thankfully throughout this book she comes to some kind of realisation about her behaviour and I liked the growth of her character, who eventually has grown on me.
It’s Not Summer Without You isn’t exactly a happy, care free book, but it is perfect summer reading and one I definitely recommend. With her engaging, readable style and short chapters, which keep you thinking ‘just one more’, it’s perfect poolside reading.