Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer -- they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.
I originally bought this book in June, intending to read it immediately to get into the summer mood. Unfortunately, I kept putting it off and off --- not because I didn't want to read it, but because I had a lot of other books to read. It didn't matter that I ended up reading this book in November, though, because it would have been amazing, and made me feel like it was summertime, in any season.
Belly (Isabel), her mom, and her older brother, Steven, go to Cousins Beach every summer to stay at her mom's friend Susannah's beach house with her and her two sons, Jeremiah and Conrad. Belly is the youngest one of the four teens.
Up until the summer where she "turns pretty," the older boys used to leave her out of everything. But, the summer before Belly turns sixteen, she goes to Cousins Beach finally free of her glasses, her braces, and her chubby, childish cheeks. The boys finally start including her in the things they do together, and she feels like she belongs.
Belly had spent her entire pre-teen and teenage life pining away for Conrad, the oldest of the boys. He'd always been mysterious, and of course extremely handsome. But then there's Jeremiah. He's a year older than Belly, and makes it pretty obvious he likes Belly that summer.
Belly goes back and forth between the two brothers, not knowing which one she likes more, when she meets a familiar-looking Cam (Cameron) at a Fourth Of July barbecue. He seems perfect --- good looking, sweet, and full of charm. While getting to know each other better, Cam tells Belly why they look so familiar to each other. The reason, I felt, was a little cliche, but none the less made your heart go,
"awww! How cute!"
Belly goes back and forth between all three guys the entire summer, which I thought was pretty fickle. It's like, she's going out with Cam, and leading Jeremiah on until the point where he tells her he basically loves her. Meanwhile, she's still going after Conrad, who says he doesn't like her, but occasionally does something that Belly interprets as a sign that he likes her anyways.
All-in-all, the characters seemed extremely realistic. When I was reading the dialogue, I felt like I could hear the characters talking myself.
I liked that this book was romance-y, without being a full-on love-fest or a smut book. I thought it was unique that Jenny Han made the book come off like it would be a light read, when in fact a lot of serious topics are discussed in the book.
Another thing that was unique about this book was that a lot of the chapters flashed back to previous summers. I liked it, because it helped me get to know all of the characters a little better.
I've heard a lot of people say they didn't like the book because Belly came off as whiny, selfish, and annoying, and I can see that a little bit, but I believe it just made her all the more realistic. I mean, really, what human being isn't even the slightest bit selfish? I think these traits made her different from a lot of the other protagonists that are portrayed as having no flaws.
I finished this book in no time (it was a pretty easy read), and I do admit I enjoyed it. I found myself wanting to stop whatever else I was doing to go sit down and read this book! I am excited to read what other stories Jenny Han comes out with, and I fully intend on reading the sequel, It's Not Summer Without You.