Summers. To be honest with you, I have never really liked summer, but what I have loved since the day of its release in book form, is The Summer I Turned Pretty from Jenny Han.
It’s like reading magic in the pages and learning that summer magic isn’t always a big thing. Sometimes summer magic is in the way that we live our lives and figure out who were are. It’s the moments that we come alive, that we see ourselves differently and the world starts to see us differently.
There is something about The Summer I Turned Pretty the book, this is true. But after waiting thirteen years for this book to come to the screen, I just have to say I am happy that we waited.
Because the cast.
Because the story.
Because everything happens when it’s meant to and somehow it just feels right. Lets dive into the first episode.
THE DRIVE TO COUSINS
Belly counted her life in summers. Her family had been going to the Fishers’ house in Cousins since she was a baby. It’s the moms and the kids place – even though the fathers would visit from time to time. But it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t their place. Everything magical happens between June and August.
As the series opens, we get to see Belly and from the moment you lay your eyes on Lola Tung, you know why we’ve waited for this adaptation. It’s because she was meant to bring Belly to life. She comes onto the screen and you’re rooting for her and hoping, that she plays the part perfectly. And within five minutes you realize that she’s done just that.
Preparing for this summer feels different. With Belly, everyone is telling her that she’s changed, but she just doesn’t see it. Her best friend Taylor is definitely more outgoing than she is and is trying to make her see that she’s changed and that means that her summer will be different.
But for Belly, summers will always be the same. It’s what she thrives on. She’s used to staying close to home, being with the Moms during the summer. She loves to be at the house and with the boys. She loves to be with Susana. She loves the way that life is different in summers.
At home, Belly wasn’t the person that was looked at. Everyone looked at Taylor. But the moment that they stop in Cousins at a gas station, the clerk is staring at her. He’s taken by her and she’s flattered. You can tell that she feels alive and realizes that she’s changed. He invites her out that night and there is something about that moment where she’s no longer just the girl that no one saw.
She’s the girl ready to be seen.
It’s crazy how a moment can change everything.
THE BELLY FLOP
It’s a different feeling when you’re seen by people in a different way and you can tell that they see you that way.
I’ve always said that if Belly doesn’t end up with Conrad, I will revolt. Because Conrad just feels like destiny. Now, I get that we’re on the first book, first episode and that we have a lot story to tell. That all being said, let me get back to the story at hand.
Tradition. Belly thrives on it, except when it comes to the Belly flop. Every year the boys toss her in the pool to mark the beginning of summer. This year, she pulls Conrad in with her. It’s a moment, one that is so small, but one so large because you see Conrad crack a smile and his brooding facade fades for a bit.
Everyone is noticing Belly. Susana is and for Belly, that is a big thing. She’s her second Mom, but also the one that Belly feels like she can do anything with. Laurel is a good Mom, a great one – but with Susana, Belly feels different. She feels like she’s seen and not having to live up to something that she can’t be or doesn’t want to be.
At least that’s the way I see it.
Belly though, she’s set to go with her Mom that night to the book store, but Jeremiah talks her into going to the beach instead. It’s nice to see that Belly allows herself to live and not feel obligated to be where everyone else wants her to be.
It’s good that Laurel and Susannah had time together to go to the country club and the bookstore. Seeing their friendship and the way that they are so different, but that they really are the best of friends.
But what I loved about the moment is that we get to see Laurel change. We have a moment where she’s not this over protective Mom, but realizes that she needs to stop being so cynical. Granted she’s learning lessons from her shit talking, when an author she has shit to say about, is actually there. And hears everything.
Sometimes a slap down to reality is what we all need.
The way that these families are bonded, the way that they work together, the way that they act – it’s not that they are friends, they are family. They’ve grown together. They definitely are family.
At dinner that night, Steven keeps look at the phone. His Mom wants him to pay attention. They want to have dinner be a screen free zone. And besides, they have so much to catch up on.
The big news of the night feels like it’s going to be the fact that Conrad quit football. Everyone seems shocked, but for the viewer, you just know that it’s because there is something more. Conrad is going through something more. He doesn’t want to talk about it, but you can see in his eyes that he’s hurting.
And there is no part of you that doesn’t want to save him.
But you can also see that Susannah is over compensating for something, so you know that something is going on there also. It’s this weird feeling to know that you care about fictional characters so much, and yes, you’ve read the book, but you really still want to change the course of their reality.
Susannah has a surprise for Belly. She’s wrangled her an invitation to the debutante ball. She knows that people can think it’s outdated, but it’s more than that.
And the look in her eyes is enough to let us all know that it’s something that is desperately important to Susannah. The boys can talk their shit, Laurel can look down on it, but for Susannah, it means something.
And I think that Belly gets that too.
THE NIGHT SWIM
We’re back to tradition and for Belly, that’s a night swim. She loves it. She loves the water and the peace that it gives her.
But that night, the first night, Conrad is sitting out there smoking pot, as she dives in. When they talk, Belly is challenging everything that Conrad is doing by reminding him of things that he used to say. She’s not seeing the way that he’s challenging her. She’s not seeing the way he’s flirting with her.
Conrad seems to let walls down when Belly is around. But the moment that he starts to tell her what is happening with him, of course that’s when Steven and Jeremiah show up and tell him it’s time to go.
They tell Belly that she can’t go. She wants to go, she wants to be a part of the group. And to be honest, it would have been better had they said yes, but we’re dealing with teenage boys. I know you’re asking why would it have been better?
Well because they she wouldn’t have been influenced by Taylor – who somehow has her sneaking out in clothes that she normally wouldn’t wear. Belly isn’t the type to sneak around, but that’s what she’s going to do right now – not tell Moms where she’s going.
And go to a place where she shouldn’t be.
When you’re sneaking out, the first person that you call out to at party should not be your brother. Especially when you’re dressed differently and he’s ready to come for you for it.
Steven is a good brother, most of the time. But the way that he acts when he sees Belly and then the clerk talking to her, the way he acts is not a good thing. Dragging her and her falling – not cool.
But what’s even worse for Belly, besides everyone seeing that, is that she sees Conrad making out with a girl, and she looses her shit. The girl tries to be nice to Belly, but Belly isn’t having it.
I think for me it was such an important moment to see, because every time we get to see more and more of Belly and the way that she sees life is something that we can all relate to. It’s something that shows just how much she cares about Conrad. But it’s also that we can see that Conrad cares and he’s also upset with life.
It’s this mix that you know that there is going to be a lot of angst.
Belly isn’t used to situations like this, and at a certain point in our lives, none of us are. It’s a right of passage. Just like it’s a right of passage for someone to recognize you.
I love Cam and the interaction with Belly. I love that he remembers her from before and isn’t just like looking at her for who she is now. Sometimes we all need that moment, that part of life where we’re not defined by certain things. And Cam, he seems like a light where she can just be free from the complications of the Fisher boys.
But it doesn’t mean that the Fisher boys are ready to let go of her. After all, summer is just beginning.
And hey, it doesn’t mean that Belly is really ever going to get over her love for these boys. Because the moment that she sees Conrad getting into a fight, she jumps to stop it. In the midst of it she ends up getting hit and Jeremiah is the first to make sure she’s okay and when the cops come, he gets her away.
But Belly, she’s still trying to press the limits. She tells Conrad and Jeremiah that Cam can take her home. They definitely aren’t going to let that happen. The boys keep telling her to get in the car. The boys love Belly. Conrad is rolling his eyes and Jeremiah is putting his foots down, and in a reaction, Belly kisses Cam goodbye.
I don’t think that Belly wouldn’t have done that had she not seen Conrad kissing someone else.
And I do think that it’s something that she regrets when Conrad reaches out and touches her hair. It is weird, you don’t know if he’s insulting her or trying to be close to her.
It’s a mixture of both in my opinion.
THE OFFICER BRINGS YOU HOME
It’s just their luck that they get brought home by the cops. I am not sure if it was better that Laurel was the one up to get them or Susannah. But Laurel was completely right when she told them that if the Fishers’ weren’t the Fishers’ – it could have been a different situation.
All of the kids are in protection mode of themselves. She’s yelling at each one of them and Steven tries to call her out because he can smell marijuana on her. Jeremiah is the good kid and says he was the designated driver.
She’s like you wanna be treated like an adult you need to act like one. Conrads like maybe you guys should too, meaning the Moms. And like Laurel, even I wonder what that means.
We know that it definitely has to do with whatever is hurting him and wearing on his heart. It’s almost heartbreaking to see when he puts the blankets on Susannah and you know that he just wants to let her know he loves her. You can see it in his eyes.
It’s crazy that in our lives all it takes is a moment, a mili-second of time, to change everything that we think and know about life. It’s crazy that it takes that to change what we think about ourselves.
For Belly, the night before, it changed everything for her. She’s ready to change. She’s ready to grow.
And, I for one can’t wait to see it.
- Stephen being the one to say that he’s going to teach Belly to drive and them telling Laurel that she’s judgmental made me laugh. Kids.
- Taylor is a lot, like A LOT. But you know, most BFF’s are
- Laurel inviting her ex to the 4th of July, is weird. Sure, I get that people get a long, but it’s still weird.
- Jeremiah and Belly’s trip to the water to swim is adorable and shows their friendship bond.
- I woulda done a false start too when asked if I wanted to race.
- Really wanna know why Laurel hates the country club.
- Susannah making Laurel’s thing more than she wanted it to be is a little nerve wracking – cause I am thinking I should be prepared for something to fuck up.
- Conrads way of looking down on things can get a little old but you know it’s cause he’s hurting.
- Laurel trying to figure out what is good on Instagram is hilarious.
- I wanted to cry when Belly tells the Mom’s she’s tired and then skips out on their evening. They look sad.
- Susannah and Laurel on the bench smoking weed is legitimately one of those moments that brings me tears, and one that everyone should see. Love these two.
- Them forget Steven made me laugh. But good job Jeremiah going to get him.
- Conrad and Belly in the morning at the beach… they are my endgame.
The Summer I Turned Pretty is streaming on Prime Video now.