Book vs. Film: The Summer I Turned Pretty

The very talented author Jenny Han’s book, The Summer I Turned Pretty, was recently made into a series that has everyone falling in love with the characters. Han’s book series includes the books, The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer With You, and We’ll Always Have Summer. So far, the series on Amazon, The Summer I Turned Pretty, has one season that covers the first book in the series. The show is confirmed for a season 2 already, and fans are hoping for a 3rd as well. For those that haven’t read or watched it, essentially, the series features a girl, Belly, who visits her mom’s best friend’s summer house at “Cousins Beach” every summer with her older brother, who is best friends with the other two boys, Conrad and Jeremiah, that own the house. All the previous summers, the boys have viewed her as a child, but all of a sudden they finally see her as an actual girl. I won’t spoil it, but the romance that goes between the characters is really interesting to watch, as are the character developments they all make. One of my favorite parts about this show is the soundtrack which features Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers, Jack Harlow, and more.. I would definitely recommend reading the books first, but it is so cool to see what you pictured and imagined come to life and the actors did a great job portraying their roles. If you haven’t read or watched it, this is just a warning that the next paragraph does have spoilers. 

There are plenty of differences between the books and the show, however I don’t think it takes away from reading/watching either. It’s different in a good way and exciting to see how things play out in both. The first general difference I noticed is that in the book, the storyline focuses mainly on the two families, however on the show we are introduced to many more characters in a lot of events like the Debutante Ball, and those characters do affect the chemistry aspect between people a lot. It seems like in the show, they’re building more of a sense of community rather than isolating one group of people. I really like this because it mixes things up. Adding onto that sense of focusing on more people, the two moms are also given more of a storyline and have their own drama going on, unlike in the books where they weren’t highlighted as much. This same thing is seen with Belly’s older brother, Steven. In the books, he left the beach house in the middle of summer, but on the show he is a lot more involved. Speaking of Steven, Belly’s best friend ends up having a crush on Steven, instead of Jeremiah like it was in the books. This adds tension between Taylor and Belly and personally I like Taylor in the show better than in the books.

In the books, Belly had her first kiss with Jeremiah and he kissed her with the intentions of making Taylor jealous (because she liked him in the books), but since the show version of Taylor had a different love interest, Belly has her first kiss with an old friend, Cam. Their relationship doesn’t last too long as Belly ended things with Cam. In the books, it’s the other way around, but either way Cam knew where Belly’s heart truly was. Cam being there is a great asset to the plot because it allows the viewers to be empathetic as he was such a sweet boy. These are all somewhat minor differences, but some of the bigger ones include the fact that Belly actually had more chemistry with Jeremiah than she did in the book, creating so much more tension between the two brothers. Belly also doesn’t get a visit in the winter from Conrad, the scene is completely different. In my opinion, the biggest difference was the kids’ knowledge about Susannah’s (Conrad and Jeremiah’s mom) cancer. In the books, the kids all know about Susannah’s cancer. However, in the show, Conrad is the only one who knew about his mom’s disease. This is a huge explanation into why he acted the way he did. In the final episode, Jeremiah found out about the cancer which led to everyone knowing. This made everything serious and real, because Susannah didn’t want to go through chemo this time. Overall, the show and books were amazing and I truly think that since the author was involved with making the show, it had a great impact on the overall quality and vision of the show. I would highly recommend this series to anyone who likes rom-coms and tension. 

  • Kaitlyn Y.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

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