I have always been keen on reading The Summer I Turned Pretty series ever since I had read To All The Boys I Have Ever Loved by Jenny Han. At the very outset, I knew this series would also have Han’s trademark touch which essentially can be termed as an amalgamation of a coming-of-age story, friendship, some adventures, and misadventures, all in the quest for finding one’s true love.
But somehow, I never got around to reading the book, let alone the series. But the moment I found out that there is a television web series based on the book, produced for Amazon Prime, and helmed by Jenny Han herself, and that it would be available to view from the 17th of June, I knew that I couldn’t delay it anymore.
I had to read the book first before I watched the show.
And to my utter delight, I found out that my audiobook subscription had all the 3 books and that’s it.
I started listening to it immediately.
The book is a short one and I binge-listened to it before watching the show in a day’s time.
In this short post, I compare my experience with both the web series and the novel. But before we delve into the juicy stuff, here are my comparative ratings for The Summer I Turned Pretty – Book vs TV show.
ENTERTAINMENT: BOOK – 3.5/5 SHOW – 4/5
CHARACTERS: BOOK – 3.5/5 SHOW – 4/5
The summary of The Summer I Turned Pretty
Belly a.k.a Isabel’s life is all about her summer break. She just loves that time of the year, because, for her, it is the time for fun, family, and relaxation. It is the time when memories, that will last her a lifetime, are created. So, for her, everything best happens during those blissful months from June to August.
All year round she is counting the days to summer, when she, along with her mom and brother Steven, can finally go and visit the Cousins beach where her mom’s best friend Susannah owns a beach house. Since they were little, each summer they would go and spend time together at the beach house, and now after all these years of cherished memories, it has become a sort of ritual, a ritual that everyone loves to adhere to.
But this summer brings something different. This summer brings an everlasting change.
This summer is incredibly special for Belly as she finally turns 16.
As she navigates her journey from a child to a young woman, it’s not just her appearance that has undergone a transformation, but how people look at her has changed too.
Susannah’s boys Jeremiah and Conrad, who until now saw her as a little sister, now see Belly in a different light, all grown up and beautiful.
And with some changing dynamics in place, this summer won’t be like any other summer, not just for Belly, but for both the families.
The audiobook is narrated by Lola Tung, who is also the actress portraying Bella in the show. So, it came as a big plus when I watched the show. The sense of familiarity that I felt with Bella further acted as the cherry on top. The actress and her voice both do justice to the character of Belly, who comes across as an awkward teenager, who suddenly realizes that all of a sudden people have started noticing her.
Han has a way of writing characters who are coming of age, confused, and trying to figure out life as they step into adulthood. She makes her characters flawed and relatable, which works well for readers of every age.
The essence of this book is friendship, which turns into a love triangle, but in a very candid and honest way.
When I compare the book with the show a lot of things come into play. For e.g., the book is narrated from Belly’s POV and through alternative timelines (the younger summer years and now) which has been done brilliantly, all due to Han’s excellent writing style.
The show, however, has multiple parallel storylines of secondary characters like Belly’s brother Steven, and even her mom and mom’s friends have been highlighted so well in the show. The emotions and feelings that they go through are something that we don’t find in the book, and this makes for a wholesome viewing experience.
Mind you, these books came out more than a decade ago, when technology wasn’t so popular and this is especially to be said about Instagram. So, these additional aspects of social media, which aren’t seen in the book, have added a nice, relatable, and contemporary touch to the show.
I love how the show incorporates Belly attending the debutante ball, and how she grooms herself in the process, transforming from this gawky kid to a beautiful yet innocent adult.
To sum it up, the show stays true to the book on most parts, with a few added aspects namely the volleyball tournament and the debutante ball, to give it a good weekend-binge-watch vibe.
So, these were my thoughts on The Summer I Turned Pretty – Book vs TV show.
P.S. the show has already been commissioned for season 2 even before the release of season 1, and it will surely be based on the second book in the series, It’s Not Summer Without You.
I, for one, can’t wait to dig into the next part.
What about you? Which one did you like better, the show or the book?
Buy your copy of Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty using the link below.