Audio Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty

Title/Author:  The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
(Summer #1)

Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Published:  May 5th, 2009 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Audiobook, 420 minutes

How I Got This Book:  Checked it out from the library

Why I Picked It Up?:  Recommended by a few bloggers as a great contemporary YA series.  Plus, Jenny Han will be in Charleston for YALLFest.  So I picked it up to listen to it!

Book Jacket Blurb:  “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.”

My Review of this Work:

The Summer I Turned Pretty is one of those novels that gets great reviews from bloggers, and as I was in search of another contemporary series to listen to on my commute to work, I decided it was high time to check out this book for myself!

Belly (short for Isabella, though is also called Bells, Belly Button, or just B) is a girl who lives for the summer because every summer she gets to live in a beach house with the people she loves most in the world:  her mother, brother Stephen, and closest family friends Susanna and her sons Jeremiah…..and Conrad.  For years, Belly has been coming to Cousins beach for years and years, and she has been in love with Conrad since the beginning.  Jeremiah is her best friend, but Conrad….Conrad makes her heart melt.  So naturally, this summer she is excited to be returning to her favorite place in the world; only this time, things are different.  Things are changing.  People are changing.

I feel like, to review this book properly, I have to do it in two parts.  So first, I will talk about the story itself, and then I will talk about the narration.

From a story stand point, I actually really enjoyed The Summer I Turned Pretty.  From the very beginning, I felt connected to Belly, who narrates, and all of the other important characters, too.  Belly’s narrative tone is very heart-felt and full of love and admiration for those around her, which adds an interesting element to the story when those people she loves so much annoy and anger her!  I really appreciate the introspection we gain from the flashbacks to different summers.  This actually helps define each of the characters and allows them to continue to grow in the reader’s mind.  As a reader, I formed an emotional connection with each and every character–I joined this story myself.  And I really like that a contemporary YA novel could allow me to do that.

There were little things about this story that irked me, though.  And I hate to nit-pick like this, but there are things that really infuriate me, and included details that are blatantly wrong and could easily have been researched and corrected is one of those things.  But to hear that they were playing cards with partners and then to find out they were playing hearts….HEARTS is NOT a partners game.  SPADES is, but not HEARTS!  There was something else like this later on in the novel, but I honestly don’t remember what it was.  But little things like that….there’s really no reason to be wrong.

Anywhoo……

As an audiobook, I was really torn.  On the one hand, I loved being able to put a voice with this narrator and to hear the inflicted emotions out loud.  There were some truly beautiful moments with the audio performance, especially towards the end of the novel.  I teared up a couple of times, which is the first time I have ever done that while listening to an audiobook, so that is saying something.  Jessica Almasy speaks with such emotional conviction at all of the emotional peaks in this story.  But at the same time, Jessica also puts SO MUCH DEAD SPACE in really awkward places in EVERY SINGLE SENTENCE.  Take a sentence like “The cow jumps over the moon.”  She reads, and it becomes “The cow, jumps…….over the……, moon.”  Every. Single. Sentence.  That really got old, really quickly.  And her reading style just wore me down and created a lot of annoyance instead of likeablility.  Great emotion, horrible reading = very torn about whether or not I like it.

So overall, The Summer I Turned Pretty is an emotional, contemporary YA that I really enjoyed.  But that enjoyment was stifled a bit by the narration by the audiobook reader.  I think later down the line I will probably read this for myself and see how much of a difference that makes.  All of this said, I will still definitely listen to book two.  The ending to this one was WAY abrupt and I need more! LOL.

My Bookshelf Rating:

A Middle Shelf Book.

The Summer I Turned Pretty is a very interesting YA contemporary romancey read/listen.  I really enjoyed the realistic elements of this novel–it was very emotion-driven, and I enjoyed each character’s development throughout the story.  That being said, I really had a hard time with the narrator.  While she puts beautiful emotional inflection in the appropriate places of the story, she also speaks with a lot of unnecessary pauses.  This really deterred from my enjoyment of this book.  The story itself would get a 3.5 rating, and the audio would get a 2, so this one averages out to a 3 for me.  And yet I will probably pick up the second as a listen too, because once I start listening I just have to keep listening.

Love and Fun-Fetti Cookies!,
Jennifer

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