What is The Summer I Turned Pretty?
The Summer I Turned Pretty is a novel by Jenny Han which follows Belly Conklin during the summer which she spends at a beach house with her mother and brother as well as her mother’s best friend and two sons. During previous summers, Belly was usually left out from the boys’ experiences. However, this summer, everything changes. To see my review of the entire trilogy, click here.
The Summer I Turned Pretty (TSITP) is the second trilogy by Jenny Han to be adopted into film. Another series by Han, To All the Boys I Loved Before, was available on Netflix. TSITP, however, is available on Amazon Prime. On one hand, it is exciting that more of Jenny Han’s beloved series are transforming into series or movies. On the other hand, it is becoming increasingly more expensive to spend money on multiple streaming services, which may drawback some fans from watching the series.
Are the Plot Changes Good or Bad?
Whenever a book is adapted to the screen, there are always changes. Overall, I feel like most of the changes from book to screen do not take away from the original series and capture the spirit of the novel. However, there are some changes which I found unnecessary. They didn’t necessarily take away from my enjoyment of the series, but if they weren’t included, I wouldn’t have minded.
In the Amazon Prime series, there are several plots or storylines added which do not appear in the original novel. This is due in part to the show focusing on multiple perspectives, rather than only showing Belly’s storyline. One major part of the television show, which doesn’t appear in the novels, is Belly’s participating in a debutante ball. This story line contains major scenes and pivotal moments within the series. While this storyline isn’t in the book, I found that it really reinforced a major idea within the show: Belly undergoes major changes due to growing up.
There are several other storylines which take place in the show, which do not appear in the novel. Viewers get to see Belly’s older brother develop a relationship with a girl from a wealthy background. Belly’s mother develops a relationship with a local author. On one hand, this allows readers to understand all of the characters in the show better, as opposed to Belly in the books. However, there were some scenes which I found myself wishing to get back to the main story line.
While the television show isn’t a carbon copy of the book, it does capture the same spirit as the novel, which readers will appreciate. However, it also brings some new ideas which freshen up the storyline and make it more relatable for current teenagers, who are the target demographic for the show?
How Were the Characters?
One of the biggest strengths of the TSITP show is the casting. Most of the characters are exactly how I pictured them in the book. Lola Tung captures Belly’s excitement as she grows older and breaks out of her shell. Rain Spencer makes Taylor, Belly’s friend, more likable and comedic. Christopher Briney embodied Conrad’s broodiness. Jackie Chung and Rachel Blanchard had excellent chemistry as Laurel and Susannah that you wanted to be friends with them too.
The only character who was slightly different than I envisioned when reading was Jeremiah. In the books, Jeremiah becomes a frat boy later on, so I always imagined him more like a frat boy of the era in which the book was being published. However, I did like the changes to his character, and if I think the book was written now, Jeremiah would have been written like he appears in the show. Gavin Casalegno, the actor who portrays Jeremiah, gives his character a “golden retriever” personality which helps to really set him apart from Conrad.
Overall, TSITP is a fun series which readers of the original series and people who haven’t read the book before will equally enjoy. While there were some changes from the book to the screen, I didn’t mind the changes and thought they provided a good update to the original series. I highly recommend this Amazon Prime series and give it five out of five stars.