Birthdays. We remember them. We love some of them. Some we hate. Sometimes they are bigger than others. Some we wish we could forget. For Belly, she loves her birthday.
She’s never celebrated one that isn’t in Cousins. It was her favorite day. It was the day the boys had to include her in everything. It was the day that she would get Mickey Mouse pancakes and everyone would get her a present.
This year was her sixteenth birthday. A milestone. One of those birthdays that you wait for and expect something big to happen (well, at least I did). Belly was totally fine with it being low key, traditional, and with the family. These are the things that she wanted.
But, when you allow others to get in your head, when things happen, and you don’t follow your own heart – out of experience, I will just say this – you mostly end up regretting it.
Sweet sixteens aren’t always so sweet.
Everyone is ready to celebrate Belly. It’s her birthday. Pancakes ready, presents wrapped, and everyone is all about her. But she’s not hungry yet and she’s ready for the day.
Life has changed for Belly, but the thing is, as much as things change, they stay the same. It’s cliche, but it’s also very true. They move straight to presents.
Here’s the reason I hate presents – because everyone seems to feel like they have to outdo the other person in the room with presents. And that’s not the way it is at all. No one has to out do anyone. Things mean different coming from specific people. It’s not about the money, it’s about the thought.
Steven gives her a Princeton sweatshirt, which shocks Laurel that he’s still thinking of going to Princeton. Jeremiah gets her a good luck charm so she’ll pass her drivers test. Her Mom gives her a first edition book with her favorite poem in it.
But Susannah gives her pearls from her mother. They are stunning. Absolutely beautiful and we see that this means a lot to Susannah. I think that it’s in part because of Susannah’s excitement and in part because of him seeing how vulnerable it would make him, that Conrad slides his gift back into his pocket and says that he forgot.
Even though his gift would have been the perfect gift in Belly’s eyes. She loves Conrad, regardless if she thought she was over her crush.
DISAPPOINTMENT AND CHANGE
Now, I am not saying that Belly doesn’t have a reason to be disappointed, because she does. Hell, I wouldn’t have handled it with grace. I woulda thrown shit at Conrad. But she gets her point across when she says, “It’s okay, I didn’t expect anything.”
Yes, you did. And that line made Conrad feel like shit, so we applaud the remark.
One of the most special things about this family though and the way that they protect Belly is that there is always someone to jump in and be there. And at this moment, the person to jump in is Jeremiah. He offers to take Belly for a drive, before they have to pick up Taylor, who is coming for Belly’s birthday.
It’s in this drive, that we once again, can see the way that Jeremiah loves her. He loves her enough to want her to be happy. He see’s the pain that she’s in, especially with her complaining about Conrad, and tries to direct the conversation to Cam.
But Belly is focused on Conrad letting her down. She doesn’t even realize that more people are going to let her down, especially the ones that she doesn’t think will. That’s life.
Taylor, her best friend, is not my favorite person. I get that she’s Belly’s best friend and best friends are important. To me it feels like Taylor is always trying to change Belly into something that she’s not. She wants her to be different and doesn’t seem to accept Belly for who she is.
Taylor doesn’t want a best friend, she wants a sidekick. It doesn’t matter what is going on with someone else, she needs to be the main character (which is why I find it ironic that she tells Belly that she needs to be the main character, but different story).
Belly is excited to spend her birthday evening with the family. Susannah has bought flower crowns, and she’s excited for them. But Taylor presses the subject and tells her they need to go to a party. Jeremiah of course knows where one will be. What I hate though is that Belly gives into Taylor and says that they will go.
It’s your birthday Belly! Tell Taylor to suck it.
But in the same breathe, I get it. We all have that friend that we just listen to. We don’t second guess, even when we want to. Though we should.
Taylor, in my opinion, tries to over dramatize everything. She doesn’t like not being the center of attention and when the attention is on anyone else, she’s just rude. When they are all in the pool, she makes it about her. When Nicole is there, you can’t convince me that Taylor didn’t purposely hit her with the ball.
DINNER AND A PARTY
I love family dinners with the Moms. They want to do everything that they can to spend time with their kids.
Susannah and Laurel are exact opposites. But they balance each other and that’s a beautiful thing. They challenge each other, but never take the focus off the other. They make each other shine. As friends should. It is something that Belly and Taylor could learn.
They head to the party, and all of Belly’s deb table are happy to see her. They even bought her a cake. That for some reason makes Taylor angry (though I believe it’s all jealousy) and she just becomes mean. But for Belly, it’s a moment that she deserves to be the main character.
Hell, we all deserve to be the main character in our own stories.
This summer is changing Belly and that’s not a bad thing. Taylor has admitted that she’s having a hard time with it, which I will give her points that she has admitted that she’s having a hard time with.
But that’s not an excuse. It’s not an excuse for being a bitch. It’s not an excuse for making out with Steven. It’s not an excuse for then being mad at your best friend, when she calls you out for making out with her brother. And hey Taylor, definitely not an excuse for making Belly’s secrets known. Like don’t deflect. Take responsibility for your shit.
Everyone else in Belly’s life is trying to embrace the her that is growing. But Taylor would like to keep her from doing just that.
TAKE ME HOME
The boys are trying to embrace Cam and make him one of them, because he’s important to Belly. And hey, by the boys, I mean Jeremiah, cause he’s the only one that really wants to keep the peace.
But Jeremiah oversteps by mentioning the debutante ball to Cam, and saying he’s sure that Belly will ask him.
Not your place Jeremiah.
It’s also gonna make things awkward, because Belly wants to go home, and Cam is expecting a question to be asked.
The thing is, Belly not asking him, is something deeper in her and she knows it. She doesn’t want to admit it yet, but it is there. And that’s okay. She’s allowed to be afraid or hesitant to talk about anything. She knows that she wants something else out of her life, out of her summer. It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love or like Cam. She just wants something else.
The next morning, she’s still not speaking to Taylor and you can tell that Belly is upset. Jeremiah to the rescue, ready to do what it takes to make her happy. They decide to go for a muffin run (I don’t like muffins, but I am intrigued by what these muffins must taste like since they are always wanting them).
We know that Conrad kept his birthday present from her, but we also knew that at a certain point, she’d find it. And she does, when she finds that necklace with the infinity symbol, my heart broke and mended for her. I know, I know – that doesn’t really make sense.
But it broke because she didn’t get it and was put together because she knows he cares about her and hasn’t forgotten.
Laurel is the voice of reason and that’s part of what I love about her. Taking Taylor to the bus, knowing that Belly and her aren’t speaking… she wants to fix it.
After all, Laurel is going through a lot with Susannah. And hey, no one may know what is going on with Susannah, but it’s taught Laurel to hold on tighter to her relationships and treasure her friendships.
And we can appreciate that.
But I don’t think that Taylor deserved forgiveness at that point. I think she shoulda been the one to apologize to Belly. Belly deserved that.
It’s crazy to me, how I thought that I wouldn’t want anything to change from the books, but how much of the changes that I love. It doesn’t feel like changes. It feels like evolution of characters.
And that’s a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful thing that I can’t hate. I love to watch it all.
- Birthdays are supposed to be fun – I hate that Belly’s was taken from her, but then am mad at her she didn’t stand up for herself.
- Why is Taylor always trying to change Belly?
- Taylor being jealous of Belly and then projecting it on Belly pisses me off.
- Jeremiah’s stolen looks at Belly make me swoon. I love it.
- Steven trying to be something he’s not – it makes me feel bad. He’s good enough as he is.
- Family dinner for Belly’s birthday looks to be so much fun. I love their dinners.
- Everyone giving Cam a hard time – he handles it well.
- Conrad getting lost in time with Nicole and being late when he’s supposed to be at Whale of a Tale, you can tell how disappointed he is in himself.
- Nicole demands a lot of attention.
- Young Conrad teaching Belly about infinity, I 🥺
- Finding out what is going on with Savannah, my heart broke. Yes, all these are things I knew about, but seeing all of the things play out in front of me, my heart broke like it was the first time.
- Love that Steven really likes Shayla and doesn’t want to hurt her, but the truth always comes out Steven.
The Summer I Turned Pretty is streaming now on Prime Video.