Saturday, June 4, 2011

Review: We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

Summer, Book 3
Book 1: The Summer I Turned Pretty
Book 2: It's Not Summer Without You

Tags: YA, contemporary, summer, wedding, love triangle


Belly and Jeremiah have been happily dating for two years, but things go rapidly downhill when Jeremiah hurts Belly badly. In an effort to keep her close, Jeremiah offers to make the most serious commitment that a man can make to a woman. Jeremiah and Belly start planning their future together in earnest, but are met with opposition from every side, especially Conrad, who returns from the West Coast and causes Belly to once more wonder if she hasn’t chosen the wrong guy after all.


As Jenny Han’s Summer series has been one of my favorite contemporary series in recent memory, I definitely had high expectations for WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE SUMMER. And yet I don’t think it was merely my high expectations that made the third and final Summer book somewhat of a disappointment for me. WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE SUMMER gave me the ending I had been rooting for since the first book, but it did so in a way that, I think, unfortunately sacrificed characterization and reader sympathy.

Two years pass between the end of the second book and the beginning of this one, but I was shocked at how poorly most of the characters acted. Not only was it their actions that made me cringe, it was also their flatness: I felt like the three-dimensional, flawed, but still lovable characters from the first two books regressed into petulant children by this installment. Jeremiah, Belly, Conrad, and all the adults felt like they were playing the roles of good boy/bad boy, good parent/bad parent, unsubtly manipulating our sympathies toward them so that we can be happy—nay, relieved—at the ending. And that definitely made me feel cheated, cheated that I, as a reader, was not trusted enough to be happy for Belly and whichever guy she ended up with.

And then: the marriage. It’s not that I’m against teen marriage—okay, I am, but in literature I’m willing to go with whatever the character wants…so long as it’s written convincingly. I felt like everything in this book happened too fast. Yes, I know that Belly and Jeremiah wanted things to go fast—but does that mean the story had to be told in what felt like a slapdash manner, with people running around frantically trying to coordinate things, only to have them fall into place perfectly at the last minute thanks to some “divine” (read: nice parent) intervention? Does that mean that tensions and arguments could arise seemingly randomly, and then settled without a problem a few chapters down?

Still, props for finishing up a really good YA contemporary series. Basically, it wasn’t that I had a problem with what happened in this book; rather, I had some issues with how this story was told. This evidently wasn’t a problem for the majority of bloggers who loved this final book!

Cover discussion: Not much to say about this series' covers. They're alright, they do well for the summer theme, but they're pretty unforgettable if taken out of context of how much I love the story.

Simon & Schuster / April 26, 2011 / Hardcover / 304pp. / $17.99

Copy sent for review.


  1. I was so relieved to read this review because you struggled with a lot of the same things that I struggled with when I read this book. So many reviews have been unfailingly positive that I felt like I was alone with my reservations about the storyline in this book. Even so, I loved the first two books and am still a Jenny Han fan.

  2. You make a great point. Now that I look back it seems obvious that we were manipulated. I mean I was ready for things to go either way despite wanting it to end how it did. I hated that Jer had to become a prick out of nowhere despite being such a lovely guy in the previous books just to contribute to the ending. The thing was she didn't need to do that, we loved all three and loved the series regardless of what would have happened. I don't think she realised that. Not only did this hurt us as readers but it let us down. However, I'll still always adore this series. Being in love with it is an understatement, and I'm glad that you obviously love it too :)

  3. I was happy to finally hear what Conrad was thinking...he was always too brooding for my taste. But I agree that the third novel didn't equal the other two. Still, I love the series and will recommend it to anyone who'll listen.


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