Reading format: physical books checked out from my local libraries
I strongly believe that you do not have to buy books to enjoy them and I ALWAYS recommend using your library card to access books for FREE. However, I recognize that books make great gifts.
I haven’t yet watched the Netflix adaptation of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (henceforth abbreviated as TATBILB) but its popularity turned me on to Jenny Han’s young adult (YA) canon. I devoured the TATBILB trilogy and moved on to Han’s first New York Times bestselling series. The Summer Series includes The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, and We’ll Always Have Summer.
Isabella (Belly) has spent summers since childhood at the beach house owned by her mother’s best friend Susanna “Beck” Fisher. Belly chases along after her older brother Steven and Beck’s boys, Connor and Jeremiah. As they enter puberty, adoration turns to romantic interest and infatuation. The trilogy follows Belly as she comes of age over several summers. The second and third installments feature some chapters told from other characters’ perspectives. The series explores cancer, grief, friendship, first love, divorce, family relationship dynamics, jealousy, and betrayal.
Disclaimer: I’m a sucker for a good YA romance novel. As she does with the TATBILB trilogy, Han delivered in spades. I totally bought the intensity of Belly’s obsession with her first love and was conflicted alongside her as she navigated a complex love triangle. The loss of a parent to cancer was emotional for me since my Mom is currently living with recurrent cancer. Belly’s transition to college and management of friendships (new and old) were relatable. I recognized the challenge of embracing your independence and owning your own decisions, even if/when they don’t garner the approval of authority figures.
For those of you who are musicophiles, author Jenny Han includes a series playlist on her website (scroll to the bottom of the page).
Fittingly, I finished the series on the beach (see photo above)!