It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by Simon and Schuster on April 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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.
Susannah is gone, and this summer Belly will be staying at home and spending time with her best friend, Taylor. Her relationship with Conrad ended after prom, and when he goes missing, she can’t resist helping Jeremiah go in search of him. Soon, the three of them find themselves back at Cousins beach for another summer adventure, it’s not like any of them expected, but it may be just what they need.
This book traveled to the summer after The Summer I Turned Pretty, and Belly’s life was nothing like she expected it to be. Instead of being with Conrad, the two fell apart in the spring, and her connection to the Fisher family started to fizzle. Everything that Conrad went through in the first book reached an extreme in this book, and he had a difficult time handling the death of his mother. My feelings towards Conrad throughout the novel were about as confused as Belly’s—one minute he’s looking lovingly her way, telling her that he made a mistake and the next he’s ignoring her existence. Overall, it made Jeremiah look more appealing, even though there are some wonderful moments with Conrad.
The book switched point of views, unlike the first book in the series, which stayed in Belly’s perspective. Jeremiah had a few chapters told through his eyes that offer insight into life with Conrad and the other Fishers as well as how he sees Belly. I believe the Jeremiah chapters added a needed depth to the novel, and allowed me to learn more about Conrad that wasn’t as biased (meaning Belly had always been hopelessly in love with him). Jeremiah loved his brother, but also had moments of jealously and pure confusion when it came to Conrad’s action that made me rethink about some of the things Conrad and Jeremiah did.
In the first book, there are scenes with Belly’s mother, but It’s Not Summer Without You gave Laurel a different feel. While Belly may not have seen it, others were suffering through the loss of Susannah, and both she and her mother needed each other more than they had previously believed. Like Belly, there were moments when I didn’t understand Laurel’s character or why she did the things that she did, but as she was more developed it became easier to dissect her nature.
It’s Not Summer Without You is a book about changing and growing just as much as the first book in the Summer series, just a different kind of growth. In order for the characters to move on, they had to go through the growing pains initiated by unwanted events in their lives.
I thoroughly enjoyed going on this journey with Belly and the boys and can’t wait to see what another summer has in store for them—there are a lot of unanswered questions after turning the last page.