A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
You, your friends and family, and your life are going to change. You can't stop it from happening. So it's better to face the changes as they come, and to acknowledge and deal with them as best you can. Trying to keep things the same no matter what will keep you from becoming who and what you're supposed to be.
Positive Role Models
The best role models are secondary characters Jeremiah, Jeremiah's mom Susannah, and Laurel, narrator Belly's mom. They are strong, positive models of compassion and communication. Belly and her crush Conrad are pretty self-absorbed, although Belly does show empathy when she learns more about people and their situations. Characters model ties to family and lifelong friends. All three teen boys enjoy belittling Belly and show a sense of ownership of her and a desire to control her.
Most characters read as White. Belly and her family read as Asian American. The families sharing a house are in different financial situations, but not drastically different.
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Violence & Scariness
A fight with a punch to the face mentions blood from broken glass.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Most of the plot is about love and romantic feelings. Teens talk about about kissing and making out. Seeing people kiss and being kissed are described briefly a few times.
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"S--t," "d--k," "ass," "goddamn," "hell," "boobs," and "crap." Verbal hostility and calling names like "douche," "slutty," and "dipwad." Using the phrase "don't be gay" to goad someone is called out but not discussed in detail.
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Products & Purchases
Food, beverage, and fashion brands mentioned incidentally or to establish character.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A teen smokes cigarettes several times. Parents give teens wine with dinner once. Teens drink beer at two or three parties, one party mentions a keg. Some drunken behavior is shown, as is not drinking and driving. Adults drink alcohol occasionally, and past adult drinking and smoking is mentioned. Adults smoke marijuana, one to help with chemotherapy-related nausea.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first of a trilogy and is the source for a popular TV series of the same name. It centers on the romantic dreams of a 15-year-old girl spending the summer in the same place, with the same people, she has for her entire life. Teens kiss a few times and talk a lot about dating and romance. The only violence is a fight with a punch and blood from glass that was broken accidentally in the fight. Strong language includes "s--t," "d--k," and verbal hostility with name calling like "douche." A teen smokes cigarettes, and adults smoke marijuana once. Teens drink at parties, mostly beer, but don't drive when drunk. Fathers are remote and mostly absent. One character is being treated for a recurrence of cancer. There's no resolution when a teen sneaks out of her house at night to go on a trip (the destination and length of time aren't given) and justifies it by telling herself she'll call her mom in the morning to explain.
Is It Any Good?
This is a breezy, light, but heartfelt summer romance that fans of the genre will enjoy. The Summer I Turned Pretty is especially strong at evoking the pleasures of a summer at the beach, and the value in strong family ties and bonds of lifelong friendship. Jumping around in time through a series of flashbacks keeps the story moving, and it's always easy to follow and understand when events are taking place.
There are some minor inconsistencies, and some readers may get frustrated that Belly turns everything around to herself. But her insecurities make her easy to relate to, and readers will root for her growing sense of independence.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.