May 9, 2013

It's Not Summer Without You - Jenny Han

[Please note that this is the second book in the series, and there may be minor spoilers in this review! Perhaps you'd like to check out my review of The Summer I Turned Pretty (Book 1) instead.] 

It's Not Summer Without You book cover
It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han
Series: Summer #2
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 27, 2010
Source/Format: Bought || Paperback

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. (from Goodreads)

Reading It’s Not Summer Without You drew me back into Belly’s world, the one dominated by her summers at Cousins Beach and her relationships with her mother, her brother Steven, and their family friends, Susannah, Conrad and Jeremiah. It was, as always, impeccably done, and I couldn’t put the book down until I’d finished.

A lot has changed since readers last encountered these characters. Belly is older now, slightly more mature. She’s also suffering from the effects of her “relationship” with Conrad, which translates into nursing a broken heart. While the story does revolve around Belly, I was definitely paying more attention to Susannah/Beck’s boys – Conrad and Jeremiah – this time around.

I started the book off unsure how to feel about Conrad, especially after the light he’d been painted in during the previous novel. Gradually, I found my anger and frustration intensifying until I was nearly at the point where I hated him. I was so close to losing it… and then revelations come to light and I just couldn’t bring myself to hate him. Instead, I sympathized with him. But just when I thought it was okay, he did something that had those feelings of intense dislike came rushing back in. He frustrated me again and I wanted to talk some sense into him!

Jeremiah, on the other hand, really grew on me in this book. It’s clear from the very start that he’s devoted to Belly, and that his feelings for her have continued growing even during the time they were apart. What really won me over when it came to him was his willingness to step aside if Conrad had loved Belly and really wanted to commit to being with her. The selflessness of that act was certainly enough to woo me!

The character I missed most in this book was Susannah. Her death seemed to have left everyone feeling lost, and I felt their sadness as deeply as if it were my own. The loss of her presence lent a very melancholy feeling to the book, and it permeated most of the plot too.

Reading about their mini-reunion at the beach house was a bit of a soothing balm to her loss though. The beach house brought back good memories, and reminded me of moments they’d shared during their history at it. It was a little sad for them to be there without Susannah, but I still found it brought comfort to read about it.

Jenny Han’s writing is certainly easy to read, and she had some beautiful passages written in this book. I love how she was able to capture the essence of what a first love is really like – the strong infatuation, the unwillingness to let go or believe that it isn’t meant to be. I also love that she shows us that there’s another kind of love – the kind you choose and make a concerted effort to enjoy.

It’s Not Summer Without You was another emotional roller coaster ride of a book detailing Belly’s experience with Cousins Beach and the two boys she’s known forever. The story is compelling in its believability, and I found myself completely absorbed in its pages once I’d started. I highly recommend this book, its predecessor and the final book (We’ll Always Have Summer – with review to come)!


  1. I enjoy this series, too, but I still need to read the third and final book. The loss of Susannah was so sad in this story and I really felt for both Jeremiah and Conrad. I like Jeremiah, but there is just something about Conrad. I'm excited to see who she ends up with, I don't know why I've put off the 3rd book for so long. Great review!
    -Natalie @Natflix&Books

  2. You know, a friend of mine who really loved the first two books really disliked the last one so much that I asked her to spoil it for me. Because of the choices made in that book, I'm not sure this is the series for me, but I'm glad to see that you enjoyed it! It certainly has its share of fans.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  3. I feel like I need to hurry up and read this book. Like, I loved The Summer I Turned Pretty to the point where I borrowed the next two books from the library but then never read them. This review though makes me want to just buy book 2 already. Also, I'm totally team Jeremiah. All the way.

  4. Conrad is def frustrating! There were times where I "got" why Belly liked him so much but for the most part, I was like WUT. I agree about Susannah, it was surprising and heartfelt. Lovely review, Alexa!

  5. Yes! I had a roller coaster of emotions with Conrad. That boy could def work my nerves sometimes, but he could also make me smile. I agree you about the mood of this book, I was def expecting a lighter, fun read with this serie as a whole, not that it being what it was made it bad or anything. Great review!

    Confessions of a Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

  6. I think I preferred Jeremiah a little more in the first book. I still need to pick this up! I'm glad to hear that Belly matures in this book (she somewhat frustrated me in the first one). I'm looking forward to continuing soon. :) Lovely review!

  7. Susannah's death shouldn't have been a surprise, but it really was! I entered the book thinking I had started the third one instead of the second one. It was such a heartbreaking book! I can't say that I liked Jeremiah more ... I was a Conrad girl since book one!

    Great review!


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