It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han
The sequel to The Summer I Turned Pretty, this fast read continues the story of Belly and her on-again, off-again romance with the boy she’s been in love with as long as she can remember, Conrad. To make life even more complicated, Conrad’s mom Susannah succumbs to cancer early in this novel, something predicted in the previous novel that readers hoped could be avoided. Susannah’s death impacts everyone: Belly feels lost every time she thinks about her, her mom has withdrawn into herself unable to cope with the death of her longtime best friend, and Conrad is acting even more moody and unpredictable than usual.
This story is told quite effectively partly using flashbacks. We learn at the very beginning that Susannah has died and Conrad and Belly broke up at her high school prom, but the details of both events play out slowly in the flashbacks throughout the novel. Han uses a few short sections told from Jeremiah’s (Conrad’s brother) perspective, as he becomes a major player in this story when Conrad disappears from school and Jere asks Belly to come and help him find his brother. While not quite as emotional as the first novel, this is surely a must read for Belly fans. I especially love how she realistically gets into the minds of teenagers, imperfections and all. I can’t wait for the third and final book to come out next year.