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It's Not Summer Without You Paperback – April 5, 2011
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About the Author
Jenny Han is the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series; Shug; the Burn for Burn trilogy, cowritten with Siobhan Vivian; and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You. She is also the author of the chapter book Clara Lee and The Apple Pie Dream. A former children’s bookseller, she earned her MFA in creative writing at the New School. Visit her at DearJennyHan.com.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
It’s Not Summer Without You
It was a hot summer day in Cousins. I was lying by the pool with a magazine on my face. My mother was playing solitaire on the front porch, Susannah was inside puttering around the kitchen. She’d probably come out soon with a glass of sun tea and a book I should read. Something romantic.
Conrad and Jeremiah and Steven had been surfing all morning. There’d been a storm the night before. Conrad and Jeremiah came back to the house first. I heard them before I saw them. They walked up the steps, cracking up over how Steven had lost his shorts after a particularly ferocious wave. Conrad strode over to me, lifted the sweaty magazine from my face, and grinned. He said, “You have words on your cheeks.”
I squinted up at him. “What do they say?”
He squatted next to me and said, “I can’t tell. Let me see.” And then he peered at my face in his serious Conrad way. He leaned in, and he kissed me, and his lips were cold and salty from the ocean.
Then Jeremiah said, “You guys need to get a room,” but I knew he was joking. He winked at me as he came from behind, lifted Conrad up, and launched him into the pool.
Jeremiah jumped in too, and he yelled, “Come on, Belly!”
So of course I jumped too. The water felt fine. Better than fine. Just like always, Cousins was the only place I wanted to be.
“Hello? Did you hear anything I just said?”
I opened my eyes. Taylor was snapping her fingers in my face. “Sorry,” I said. “What were you saying?”
I wasn’t in Cousins. Conrad and I weren’t together, and Susannah was dead. Nothing would ever be the same again. It had been—How many days had it been? How many days exactly?—two months since Susannah had died and I still couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t let myself believe it. When a person you love dies, it doesn’t feel real. It’s like it’s happening to someone else. It’s someone else’s life. I’ve never been good with the abstract. What does it mean when someone is really and truly gone?
Sometimes I closed my eyes and in my head, I said over and over again, It isn’t true, it isn’t true, this isn’t real. This wasn’t my life. But it was my life; it was my life now. After.
I was in Marcy Yoo’s backyard. The boys were messing around in the pool and us girls were lying on beach towels, all lined up in a row. I was friends with Marcy, but the rest, Katie and Evelyn and those girls, they were more Taylor’s friends.
It was eighty-seven degrees already, and it was just after noon. It was going to be a hot one. I was on my stomach, and I could feel sweat pooling in the small of my back. I was starting to feel sun-sick. It was only the second day of July, and already, I was counting the days until summer was over.
“I said, what are you going to wear to Justin’s party?” Taylor repeated. She’d lined our towels up close, so it was like we were on one big towel.
“I don’t know,” I said, turning my head so we were face-to-face.
She had tiny sweat beads on her nose. Taylor always sweated first on her nose. She said, “I’m going to wear that new sundress I bought with my mom at the outlet mall.”
I closed my eyes again. I was wearing sunglasses, so she couldn’t tell if my eyes were open or not anyway. “Which one?”
“You know, the one with the little polka dots that ties around the neck. I showed it to you, like, two days ago.” Taylor let out an impatient little sigh.
“Oh, yeah,” I said, but I still didn’t remember and I knew Taylor could tell.
I started to say something else, something nice about the dress, but suddenly I felt ice-cold aluminum sticking to the back of my neck. I shrieked and there was Cory Wheeler, crouched down next to me with a dripping Coke can in his hand, laughing his head off.
I sat up and glared at him, wiping off my neck. I was so sick of today. I just wanted to go home. “What the crap, Cory!”
He was still laughing, which made me madder.
I said, “God, you’re so immature.”
“But you looked really hot,” he protested. “I was trying to cool you off.”
I didn’t answer him, I just kept my hand on the back of my neck. My jaw felt really tight, and I could feel all the other girls staring at me. And then Cory’s smile sort of slipped away and he said, “Sorry. You want this Coke?”
I shook my head, and he shrugged and retreated back over to the pool. I looked over and saw Katie and Evelyn making what’s-her-problem faces, and I felt embarrassed. Being mean to Cory was like being mean to a German shepherd puppy. There was just no sense in it. Too late, I tried to catch Cory’s eye, but he didn’t look back at me.
In a low voice Taylor said, “It was just a joke, Belly.”
I lay back down on my towel, this time faceup. I took a deep breath and let it out, slowly. The music from Marcy’s iPod deck was giving me a headache. It was too loud. And I actually was thirsty. I should have taken that Coke from Cory.
Taylor leaned over and pushed up my sunglasses so she could see my eyes. She peered at me. “Are you mad?”
“No. It’s just too hot out here.” I wiped sweat off my forehead with the back of my arm.
“Don’t be mad. Cory can’t help being an idiot around you. He likes you.”
“Cory doesn’t like me,” I said, looking away from her. But he sort of did like me, and I knew it. I just wished he didn’t.
“Whatever, he’s totally into you. I still think you should give him a chance. It’ll take your mind off of you-know-who.”
I turned my head away from her and she said, “How about I French braid your hair for the party tonight? I can do the front section and pin it to the side like I did last time.”
“What are you going to wear?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Well, you have to look cute because everybody’s gonna be there,” Taylor said. “I’ll come over early and we can get ready together.”
Justin Ettelbrick had thrown a big blowout birthday party every July first since the eighth grade. By July, I was already at Cousins Beach, and home and school and school friends were a million miles away. I’d never once minded missing out, not even when Taylor told me about the cotton candy machine his parents had rented one year, or the fancy fireworks they shot off over the lake at midnight.
It was the first summer I would be at home for Justin’s party and it was the first summer I wasn’t going back to Cousins. And that, I minded. That, I mourned. I’d thought I’d be in Cousins every summer of my life. The summer house was the only place I wanted to be. It was the only place I ever wanted to be.
“You’re still coming, right?” Taylor asked me.
“Yeah. I told you I was.”
Her nose wrinkled. “I know, but—” Taylor’s voice broke off. “Never mind.”
I knew Taylor was waiting for things to go back to normal again, to be like before. But they could never be like before. I was never going to be like before.
I used to believe. I used to think that if I wanted it bad enough, wished hard enough, everything would work out the way it was supposed to. Destiny, like Susannah said. I wished for Conrad on every birthday, every shooting star, every lost eyelash, every penny in a fountain was dedicated to the one I loved. I thought it would always be that way.
Taylor wanted me to forget about Conrad, to just erase him from my mind and memory. She kept saying things like, “Everybody has to get over a first love, it’s a rite of passage.” But Conrad wasn’t just my first love. He wasn’t some rite of passage. He was so much more than that. He and Jeremiah and Susannah were my family. In my memory, the three of them would always be entwined, forever linked. There couldn’t be one without the others.
If I forgot Conrad, if I evicted him from my heart, pretended like he was never there, it would be like doing those things to Susannah. And that, I couldn’t do.
Top customer reviews
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Soooooooo, let me just say that keeping this review spoiler free is going to be so hard to do, because on page two (PAGE TWO, you guys!) something happens that sets the tension of this book to OMGNOWAY. Yes, you read it right PAGE TWO. The thing that happens (bear with me, I am trying here) is not entirely unexpected, but it sets the tone for the rest of the book.
Okay, let me pause a second to say, that the love triangle will just never go away. In fact, it makes perfect sense. So as you turn pages you will find yourself loving Conrad, HATING CONRAD SO SO SO MUCH, and hoping (sometimes rather desperately) that Belly ends up with one or the other of the Fisher boys for reasons I can't even mention. GAH. I hate writing non-spoilery review when I have too much to discuss.
I guarantee that your emotions will be tugged in all directions with this story. There will be tears or at least a fairly deep sadness (I suggest a sugar rush only Belly would approve of as a remedy) and a sense of relief that maybe, just maybe we will get the ending that we all want. What ending is that, you ask? I don't even know. At the start, I was hoping that she would date Conrad, but by the end, I was hoping that the sweetness of Jeremiah would win her over.
Beyond the love triangle, Jenny writes a story of friendship between girls, Belly and Taylor and she documents the highs and lows all long standing friendships seem to experience. Their story makes you hope they will end up like Susannah and Laurel eventually. The friendships between the girls, the two moms and the boys and Belly are gorgeously written. They feel extremely real, and in Jenny's hands you will feel all the emotions the characters are going through. One refreshing moment is that this book contains Jeremiah's point-of-view, so we get to see a little bit of what he's thinking as well.
We get to see Belly, in her junior year, go through loss and heartbreak. Will she ever get over her crush on Conrad? Will they even find him? Apply another layer of sunscreen, settle down on that beach towel, grab a Coke and cherry ICEE and enjoy a story about friendships, family and the crushes we can never quite leave behind. I'm definitely moving on to book 3, It's Not Summer Without You.
I did not enjoy this as much as the first, however it was a great sequel.
Mixed with melancholia, for me personally and for the Summer franchise. Having lost my own mother recently, and experienced my own battle with cancer, the tone of this book resonated strongly with me. The need to hold onto, even if you have to battle hard and risk losing everything else, certain reminders of the love that you have lost. It’s all consuming.
Belly’s love life was annoying – and I’m still not entirely convinced I like it. Not only has her age lent a certain immaturity to the story, but the fact she was a little flippant left me thinking of her as shallow and without strength of character. She was very reactionary and did not give anyone around her cause to accept she was in charge of her own destiny. Maybe it’s my age showing, but behaviour life that, especially in female protagonists rubs me the wrong way.
It does, however, lend to great drama and angst – which we get plenty of.
And just as much as Belly frustrated me, so did Conrad. He really fails to communicate, or get involved in his family despite what he is feeling. It is such a typical masculine trait. This is not a criticism on the novel, but rather, on Conrad himself. His stoicism amped up the drama in this beautiful Summer House setting.
I’ve never read a book with such annoying characters that I enjoyed so much – it is quite a feat – Thanks a bunch Miss Han.
Jenny Han was able to create such a wonderful ambiance with ‘It’s Not Summer Without You.’ As she did in the debut, ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty,’ you can smell the coconut oil and salty afternoon breezes through the narrative without lengthy exposition. Again another quick and easy read that projects all the feels and offers up a few surprises.
I found myself craving for some depth and maturity from this story, but great escapism bringing me back to my teen years…
The book started out crazy. You know by the end of the first book it is going to happen. I was in tears reading it, mostly because I lost someone recently to cancer. It was a sad time, so knew what the characters were going through.
Belly’s love life is crazy - she loves one, then another. I don’t want to spoil too much to keep her love life short will have to do. At the end of the first book, she is with Conrad until something happens. It is told later in the book and it makes you wait it drove me crazy, making me read more.
Conrad is one of Belly’s friends and at the end of book one, it is more. He is quiet and keeps to himself. He was had to figure out at first, unlike Jarimah. Jarimah in Conrad’s younger brother. He was closer to Belly, only because they talked a lot more and go along better.
Everyone knew Belly like Conrad and when he goes missing she must find him to patch things up. Conrad ran away from summer school and everything else to save something he loved.
This book will mess with you emotions drawing you in like crazy. This book we good, but I recommend reading the first book, The Summer I Turned Pretty that book was great as well.
Most recent customer reviews
I liked book 2 more than the first.