Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Released: April 6, 2010 (paperback)
Genre: Young Adult
Belly (Isabel) spends every summer at the beach with her mother, her mother's friend Susannah, and Susannah's two boys, Conrad and Jeremiah. She's been in love with Conrad since she was ten, but he still treats her like a little sister. And this summer, he's surly and keeps to himself so that Belly hardly sees him. A new boy, Cam, distracts her from Conrad as they develop a relationship, and Jeremiah also notices Belly for the woman she is turning into. But no matter how hard Belly tries to get over Conrad, her heart still belongs to him. With all that happens over this summer, Belly still hopes that Conrad will return her love.
Belly is one of those characters that has major flaws but you love her anyway. She doesn't come off looking very good with how she deals with Cam, who seems like a nice boy, but as a reader, you totally understand her feelings and forgive her, hoping that she gets clarity, and gets what she wants. Conrad is a bit mysterious, but you can see why Belly loves him through the many flashbacks throughout the story.
I love the way the flashbacks are done. Woven into the story at places where events happening in the present would trigger them, they don't intrude on the story but fit seamlessly into the arc of the summer's tale. Lacking in-text markers except for "Age 11" etc. at the chapter opening, it's clear when the chapter is memories from the past, and they always illuminate what's going on in the present. It's a tricky technique but done with great skill and style!
I have the next book, It's Not Summer Without You, and I'm looking forward to reading more of Jenny Han's wonderful writing!