Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon and Schuster BFYR
Released: April 27, 2010
Genre: Young Adult
The second book about Belly, following The Summer I Turned Pretty, picks up a year after she finally got Conrad to notice her the way she wanted him to, but everything is not so great. Susannah died two months before the summer, Conrad sort-of broke up with her before that at her prom, and Belly hasn't moved on from any of it, despite her friend Taylor's attempts. And when Jeremiah calls to say that Conrad took off from summer school without a word to anyone and asks her to help him look for his brother, Belly finds herself back at Cousins Beach again. Here, at the beach house, maybe things can turn out right.
I like the second book a lot better than the first, and I really liked the first book! I think this one has more to the plot, and the characters get more fully fleshed out. The technique of going back and forth in time is still here, and it's executed more skillfully in It's Not Summer Without You, also including some chapters from Jeremiah's point of view. It's great how seamlessly it all fits together and every bit adds to the complexity of the story.
Now here's a part that I like that's hard to explain why without giving away the ending, but I'll try. Throughout the first book and most of the second book, I felt like Belly had no reason to love Conrad. I never got a full picture of his character, though it didn't bother me because the focus was on Belly's feelings, not on the person she had those feelings for. By the middle of the second book, though, I started getting annoyed at Belly for not getting over him. He did seem to be a bit of a jerk at that point. But the ending of the book clears all of that up and ends it just the way I was hoping for!