Tuesday 13 June 2023

It’s Not Summer Without You

It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han (Penguin Books) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN: 9780241636015

Reviewed by Kellie Nissen

Kissing him, being with him like that … it was cool lemonade with a long straw, sweet and measured and pleasurable in a way that felt infinite.

Except, it wasn’t infinite.

Ever since Belly (Isabella) could remember, she’d spent summer at the Fisher’s beach house. Susannah and her mum had been childhood friends. Belly had practically grown up with the Fisher boys – she was best friends with Jeremiah and had given her heart to Conrad.

Now, it was all over. And things would never be the same again.

Being seventeen is tough. You’re on the cusp of change, no longer a child but not quite an adult. Emotions everywhere. Confused. Happy. Miserable. Readers will be drawn to Belly as she navigates true highs and lows – love and loss.

In It’s Not Summer Without You, Jenny Han continues Belly’s story from where she left off in The Summer I Turned Pretty. Having achieved her goal of getting the Fisher boys to notice her – really notice her – Belly’s world is rocked when the boys’ mother, whom she adores, passes away from cancer.

With her own mother devastated and emotionally unavailable, her best friend Taylor wanting her to snap out of it, and the boys distant with their own grief, Belly feels her world will never be the same again. Worse still, in her own grief, Belly says words to Conrad, on the day of Susannah’s funeral, that no apology will remedy.

Then, Conrad disappears.

Jenny Han reaches inside the turbulent and emotional world of adolescence and deals masterfully with the issues of grief and uncertainty. She brings humour and passion to the story, developing believable characters who all readers will recognise.

A beautiful, poignant story, It’s Not Summer Without You will appeal to the lower end of the Young Adult readership.

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