Review - It's Not Summer Without You - Jenny Han

It's Not Summer Without You (Summer, #2)Title: It's Not Summer Without You
Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: April 27 2010, Simon & Schuster
Pages: 275 pages, Paperback
Source: Library book
Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach?It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come.
But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started--at Cousins Beach.

Wow. I don't actually know what I have to say. I want to scream, cry, yell, anything. I wasn't expecting It's Not Summer Without You to affect me in this way, I wasn't expecting to care for the characters like I do. I wasn't expecting it at all. I wasn't expecting this book to tug my heart-strings in every direction possible, causing an aching sense of loss and nostalgia. Everything Belly, Jeremiah and Conrad went through, I went through. I can't type my words yet, I've got a book hangover, I don't want to do anything except read It's Not Summer Without You, over and over and over again. I don't want to do anything but cry and punch the pillow, knowing that things will never be the same for me or the characters again. I don't want to even think about reading another book. I want to be caught up in the magical story, I want to remember everything before the tragedy, I want to remember when everything was perfect at the summer house, I want to go back to those times.  Now we've got broken people, broken relationships, broken friendships, a complicated love triangle. 

The story continues after Belly's last perfect, complete summer at Cousins beach. Everything is different this year, its the first year Belly has spent summer away from Cousins, the first year that she won't have Susannah, Conrad and Jeremiah by her. Belly is still recovering from Susannah's death, still shocked how quickly, suddenly and viciously the cancer came back. And the relationships between the two boys are even more complicated than before. Belly thought that she had finally captured Conrad's heart, after that one perfect night they had spent at the summer house. But when she sees him again, he breaks her heart, leaving her bewildered, angry and bitterly upset. I was quite surprised at how things turned out, based on The Summer I Turned Pretty's romantic ending, I was expecting for Belly and Conrad to be together, but of course, things were a lot more complicated that what they seemed. 

Since Belly hasn't been on speaking terms with the boys, she wasn't expecting the call from Jeremiah, reporting that Conrad was missing and he needed Belly's help to find him. When they did find him, it was so...heart-breaking seeing how tense and how broken their relationship was. How Susannah wasn't there to make things okay. How everything was different. This book was different and so more complex then the previous one. The Summer I Turned Pretty was a sweet beach read, also quite nostalgic. Every few chapters we were given a memories of previous summers, whereas this book, It's Not Summer Without You, was set in the present. And you can see how everyone has changed and matured. And I felt myself yearning for the younger versions of the characters, the previous summers, where nothing was complicated and everyone was around. 

Everything changed after the devastating call that Susannah had passed away. Everyone was dealing with their grief in their own way. Belly was lost in a dream world, not wanting to participate with school, with family, with friends. She wanted to be in Cousins, but then again not. She wanted to be in Cousins, but before everything changed. Before Susannah passed on. Before she had to deal with the aftermath of the devastating break-up with Conrad. She didn't want to return to the summer house and feel Susannah's death around her, she didn't want to be crushed by the pain.

All the characters seem grown up, more mature than in the previous book. Conrad is wrapped up in his own grief, not seeing how he is hurting everyone else by not caring. You could almost see the pain written on his face, you could feel the anguish that he was squishing down. Jeremiah is always the fun one, smiling and cracking jokes, but even his laughter is forced. It pained me to see how everyone had changed. I honestly didn't expect to feel this way. 

The plot was brilliant! I loved reading about how they dealt with the death of the loved one, and I loved reading about how the relationships changed. I was quite surprised by the ending and literally straight after I read the book, I made my dad buy me the book on my kindle so I can read it straight away! 

Jenny Han is an amazing writer. The characters are your old friends, bringing with them a feeling of nostalgia for the last summer and every summer before. After reading The Summer I Turned Pretty and It's Not Summer Without You my heart was broken. Everything has changed, mostly for the worst, and all you want to do is relive the previous summer and whip them back to that magical time. Jenny Han makes you feel the magic of summer, the fun, that life-changing moments and the anguish that follows. If you haven't yet read this series I urge you too. After I read this book I was crying as I couldn't believe how everything had changed and the events the characters had been through. I LOVE this series, and when it is over, I shall cry like a baby. I am off to read the last book, with a box of tissues and chocolate under my arm. Just read it. Its amazing. Trust me. And if you don't love the first book that  much, the second one makes up for it.

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!