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The Summer I Turned Pretty


Summary of "The Summer I Turned Pretty" by Jenny Han


"The Summer I Turned Pretty" is a coming-of-age novel by Jenny Han that delicately weaves the themes of love, growth, and familial bonds. Set against the backdrop of a summer home, the story revolves around Isabel "Belly" Conklin, her complex relationships, and her journey of self-discovery.


  • Isabel 'Belly' Conklin: The protagonist, Belly is sensitive, romantic, and at a transformative stage in her life.
  • Conrad Fisher: A brooding, complex character, older brother to Jeremiah and Belly's long-time crush.
  • Jeremiah Fisher: Conrad's younger brother, charismatic and more outgoing, he shares a close bond with Belly.
  • Susannah Fisher: The mother of Conrad and Jeremiah, and a maternal figure to Belly, battling cancer.

Plot Overview

The novel unfolds at the Fishers' summer house, a place of annual retreat for Belly and her family. This summer is different; Belly is now 16 and begins to draw attention for her newfound beauty. The story navigates her tangled emotions as she oscillates between Conrad, her long-held crush, and the affable Jeremiah.

Conrad's distant behavior and Jeremiah’s open affection create a complex love triangle. Belly's summer is further complicated by the underlying tension of Susannah’s worsening health condition.

Key Themes

  1. Coming of Age: Belly’s journey from adolescence to adulthood is central, marked by emotional and physical changes.
  2. Love and Relationships: The novel explores first loves, unrequited feelings, and the evolving nature of relationships.
  3. Family Dynamics: The intricate relationships within Belly’s extended family, particularly around Susannah’s illness, are a crucial element.
  4. Coping with Loss: Susannah’s cancer and its impact on the family is a poignant theme, symbolizing the inevitable changes and loss.

Significant Events

  • Belly's Realization of Love: Belly realizes her deep, enduring love for Conrad despite his initial rejection and her brief relationship with Cam.
  • Conrad’s Struggle: Struggling with his mother’s illness and his feelings for Belly, Conrad's behavior fluctuates, often pushing Belly away.
  • Jeremiah’s Confession: Jeremiah confesses his feelings for Belly, complicating their friendship.
  • Susannah's Illness: Susannah’s health decline deeply affects everyone, bringing a sense of urgency and poignancy to the summer.


The novel concludes on a hopeful yet uncertain note. Conrad visits Belly in the winter, affirming his feelings for her. They decide to be together, acknowledging their strong connection. The summer ends with a mix of love, loss, and the bittersweet realization of growing up.