Sunday, July 7, 2013

Review: The Summer Series

These books deserve their own reviews, trust me, but I read them so fast that I didn't have time to to that justice. So I'm going to review the series as a whole, because each book blew me away and there's no doubt they're all getting 5 stars

The Summer Series
Author: Jenny Han
5 Gold Stars

The Summer I Turned Pretty
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 terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

Belly longs for summer all year. Her family spends it with the Fishers at Cousins Beach. Her whole life, Belly's felt like part of the family, but only to a certain extent. Her heart belongs to Conrad Fisher and this summer she plans to tell him how she feels. But other family issues are happening and there is a new guy in Belly's life. This summer will not be like the last.

Belly is constantly trying to prove that she's not a little girl anymore. She is turning sixteen and ready to be part of the grown ups. She can be stubborn and needy, but it's just because she desperately wants to be noticed by the boys. Throughout the novel, we get flashbacks from old summers, summers when she was younger and trying to fit in. We see how the boys leave her, we see how she yearns to be noticed by Conrad. It shows every part of Belly, every person that she's been and who she wants to become. The tension between her and Conrad flames off the pages, especially when she starts dating Cam. From the first page, I knew Conrad would be hard to forget. Every character stood out to me, especially Susannah. I fell head first into this book and I'm still there.

“I love Conrad and I probably always would. I would spend my whole life loving him one way or another. Maybe I would get married, maybe I would have a family, but it wouldn’t matter, because a piece of my heart, the piece where summer lived, would always be Conrad’s” 

It's Not Summer Without You
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. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. 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.

After a short, whirlwind romance, Belly and Conrad aren't talking anymore. For the first time in her life, Belly isn't looking forward to summer. Everything has changed and she isn't sure the summer house will feel the same. But when Belly gets a call from Jeremiah saying Conrad has disappeared, she drops all her new summer plans and follows him to the last place she thought she'd go this year - Cousins Beach. But Conrad doesn't want to leave and what should have been a one night deal turns into a weekend Belly will never forget.

With chapters announcing the date and flashbacks to better times between Belly and Conrad, the pace is just as fast and fluid as the first novel. Throw in some chapters from Jeremiah's point of view and suddenly Conrad isn't the only Fisher brother to watch out for. Normally I know who's going to win the girl at the end of a series, but there was no way to really know who Belly would end up with. We see a new side to everyone in this novel. The tragedy that befell the Fisher family affects them all differently and Han captures that brilliantly. Belly is suffering in her own way, yet trying to reconnect what she's lost from the summer house. This novel was heartbreaking in more ways than one. The lost love between Conrad and Belly seems to finally get buried, leaving room for Belly to move on. Throughout the novel, Belly grows closer to Jeremiah, the boy she never really took much notice to when Conrad was around. As soon as I closed this book, I picked up the last in the series, desperately needing to know how Belly's story would end.

“How do you regret one of the best nights of your entire life? You don't. You remember every word, every look. Even when it hurts, you still remember.” 

We'll Always Have Summer
It's been two years since Conrad told Belly to go with Jeremiah. She and Jeremiah have been inseparable ever since, even attending the same college-- only, their relationship hasn't exactly been the happily ever after Belly had hoped it would be. And when Jeremiah makes the worst mistake a boy can make, Belly is forced to question what she thought was true love. Does she really have a future with Jeremiah? Has she ever gotten over Conrad? It's time for Belly to decide, once and for all, who has her heart forever.

From the first page to the last, this book held my heart and wouldn't let go. Not often am I rooting for both boys to win the girl, but the Fisher brothers both love Belly equally and they would both take care of her if they could. This final book skips ahead two years. Belly is now going by Isabel and she's in college with Jeremiah. Everything going perfectly until she finds out that while they were on a break, he slept with another girl. It takes her a while to forgive him, but when she does, he asks her to marry him. Suddenly they are planning a teenage wedding that her mother doesn't approve of. So Belly heads off to Cousins to get away from everything for a little while and finds Conrad there. Memories that she's buried rise back to the surface the minute she sees him and soon she's back to the girl she used to be while trying to plan a wedding for her and his brother.

As soon as Conrad's first chapter arrived, I knew I was done for. Even after everything he's done to Belly, I still died when he came back into the picture. It was hard, knowing that Jeremiah would take good care of Belly all their lives, but I kept rooting for Conrad. The passion between them never went away, even when they were separated for two years. They fight like a married couple and every time they did, I just wanted them to make out. This book kept me guessing until the last second. By the time the last chapter came around, I was so scared about who she would choose and I cried when I read the last page. 

Han created a series that will stick with me forever. It reminds me of summer nights and summer boys and being a teenager. First love and first heartbreak rings too true in this series, capturing the essence of teenage life. I would recommend this series to everyone looking for some summer love and some happily ever afters. 

“Maybe that was how it was with all first loves. They own a little piece of your heart, always.” 

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