Rummanah Aasi
  I dread reading the second book in a series. The second book usually suffers from middle book syndrome where nothing new is revealed for a large part of the book and is written, as it seems, to build up to the third, final book. For this reason only, I didn't have any expectations for It's Not Summer Without You, the second book in the Summer series by Jenny Han. I loved Han's debut novel Shug and also really enjoyed the first Summer book, The Summer I Turned Pretty, which I highly recommend you read first before jumping to book two because it establishes the characters and setting so well.

Description (From Goodreads): 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.


Review: It's Not Summer Without You went beyond my expectations. I actually liked it much more than the first book. Though the title and the cover of the book scream "beach read", It's Not Summer Without You is much more. The characters and the plot have become stronger and more nuanced. You can't help but get swept away by Han's writing. She perfectly captures the turbulent emotions of being a teen and in love. The situations that these characters face are real and realistic though the drama may sometimes lean on the melodramatic at times. Nonetheless it's hard to not get emotionally invested in the characters and their plight. You smile when they are happy and your heart aches when they are sad. 
  Belly who at a first impression comes off as selfish and a little too self involved. She does grow and mature in this book. She still makes mistakes but begins to smarten up a bit and use her head. Her relationship with Conrad and Jeremiah is so tangible and genuine. Most books usually write off characters being best friends, but Han does a great job in showing the various relationships that Belly has with the two brothers. She genuinely loves them both, which is where the inevitable love triangle gets all so good.  
  Conrad is moody and reserved. He can't deal with his emotions and rather than talking about his problems, he emotionally shuts down. While he irritated me at times, I understood his feelings and didn't hold it against him because for once he knows what he is doing.  
  Unlike his dark and brooding brother, Jeremiah is a like a ray of sunshine. The person you can always count on to make you feel better after a really crappy day. Forever seen in the shadow of his brother, Jeremiah struggles to make his own mark. It's very hard to not fall in love with Jeremiah, but you know there is heartache waiting for him. He is definitely the underdog in getting Belly's heart. A really great surprise for me in this book is getting to hear Jeremiah's voice in alternating chapters with Belly who is the main narrator. As I mentioned before, it's really hard to make a choice between the brothers. Once again my love for them is torn and I just want to see them both happy, especially with what they have gone through in the last two books. 
  Luckily, the book does not end in a major cliffhanger but I'm still very anxious to see how the last summer with these characters will turn out. If you haven't read this series yet, I highly recommend it especially if you enjoy a YA contemporary romance!
  
Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language as well as scenes of underage drinking and partying. Recommended for mature 8th grade readers and up.

If you like this book try: We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han (Summer #3), The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
4 Responses
  1. Missie Says:

    Stunning review, Rummanah. My heart goes out to Jeremiah. I love underdogs, especially if they are a ray of light. Who could possibly resist him?

    I haven't read this series yet, mostly because I hate love triangles, and then for this one to be between two brother just seems sooo wrong, not to mention cruel. :(

    Glad to know the second book is just as good, if not better than the first. That is something to look forward to.


  2. Jenny Says:

    I seriously need to get to this series, I feel so out of the loop because everyone has wonderful things to say about it and I'm just out in left field by myself. Awesome. Thanks for a fabulous review Rummanah!


  3. Missie: Very cruel indeed. For once I love both boys equally but for completely different reasons. How this love triangle is going to get resolved will not be easy.

    Jenny: Oh you must read this series! Given your romantic heart, I willing to bet that you will love it. :)


  4. Tara Says:

    i just finished this series and I absolutely loved it! I thought they were going to be light beach reads and that couldn't have been further from the truth. Lovely review :)


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