Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.
This book can pretty much be summed up all in one quote:
I got out of my car and slung my bag over my shoulder. They didn’t even notice me walk up at first. But then they did. They really did. Conrad gave me a quick glance-over the way boys do at the mall. He had never looked at me like that before in my whole life. Not once…Jeremiah, on the other hand, did a double take. He looked at me like he didn’t even recognize me.
I remember the summer I turned pretty. I was an early bloomer in fourth and fifth grade, but it wasn’t until the summer between seventh and eighth grade. I had gone on a family trip to Ohio to visit my mom’s oldest brother and his family. My aunt decided to take me, my sister, and my cousin to a popular water park. I wasn’t even in a teeny-weeny bikini, and there was a couple cute boys who followed us around the park and hung out with us. One was really cute, he made a point to talk to me every chance he got and carried my inner tube for me. I think his name was Anthony, not sure, but that day was the only day we ever saw each other because this was during the time when it wasn’t popular to have phones and text 24/7.
Isabel, or Belly, spends the summer of her sixteenth birthday in her home away from home – the beach house in Cousins – with her mother, brother, and her mother’s best friend, Susannah, and her two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. They spend every summer at this house, but this summer was different because the boys started to notice her differently, not as their practical little sister. Belly even gets her first boyfriend, Cam, and it is obvious the boys do not like the idea of her being with someone else. Conrad, the oldest, acts out because his mother is sick again, his parents are getting a divorce, and another boy is spending time with Belly. Jeremiah, Conrad’s little brother, is the closest to Belly and confesses his love for her.
Belly was stuck in this awkward love square for the entire summer. She’s trying to grow up and be herself, but the two boys she’s loved her entire life have finally noticed she is grown up. I guessed she would have chosen Jeremiah, because he hadn’t treated her like crap all summer like Conrad had. The last chapter was a curve ball [SPOILER ALERT] Conrad shows up at Belly’s house during winter a.k.a. a five and a half hour drive.
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
Holy guacamole this was just an emotional roller coaster for me. I was excited to dive right back into this storyline only to have my heart ripped out in the first chapter. It is hard to lose someone close to you and we all cope in different ways. I’m glad that Belly finally made it to the beach house, and for a good reason to – to find Conrad and eventually try to save the beach house from being sold!
Belly’s love life was also an emotional roller coaster. She was somewhat dating Conrad at the end of the first book and in this one, but things got weird and they broke up at Belly’s junior prom. Jeremiah loved her – and author, Jenny Han gave us chapters with his point of view! I feel like Belly should have chosen Jeremiah from the beginning – the first time I read the series in high school I said she should have chosen Conrad. Jeremiah is good for her and really cares. At the end of the book, Belly talks about evicting Conrad from her heart and then proceeds to hold hands with Jeremiah in the last scene. I feel as though something may change in the last book. I’m pulling for Jeremiah though, Belly and him belong together.
We’ll Always Have Summer
It’s been two years since Conrad told Belly to go with Jeremiah. She and Jeremiah have been inseparable ever since, even attending the same college– only, their relationship hasn’t exactly been the happily ever after Belly had hoped it would be. And when Jeremiah makes the worst mistake a boy can make, Belly is forced to question what she thought was true love. Does she really have a future with Jeremiah? Has she ever gotten over Conrad? It’s time for Belly to decide, once and for all, who has her heart forever
All I can say is tears. Literal tears by the end of this book. This book made me absolutely HATE Jeremiah. He became that dirty, rotten, stereotypical douchebag frat boy, not to mention he slept with another girl while he and Belly were on a week-long break. Excuse me? How can you move on so quickly if you two had just decided on a break? Maybe there was something you weren’t being so truthful about to begin with. (Please ignore everything I said about Jeremiah being the one for Belly during It’s Not Summer Without You) But yet, the entire book is based Belly planning their wedding – their parents think it is the craziest/dumbest ideas ever, Belly temporarily moves to the Cousins beach house (with Conrad) and Conrad basically declares his undying love for Belly while she plans her wedding to Jeremiah.
Conrad. Conrad. Conrad. I am so happy Jenny Han wrote from his point of view in this book, it was the only one we really needed to make the story full circle. And in all honesty, I completely understand being in pain after losing a loved one, plus seeing the love you let go of, now dating your younger brother, it really takes a lot out of you. This book makes me wish for a Conrad. And cry because Conrad is a fictional character. In the end of the book we learn that he wrote a letter once a month, every month while Belly studied abroad in Spain (plus gifts too!) even though she never answered #RelationshipGoals.
Also on the topic of marriage at a young age – no thank you! I love my boyfriend, but if I’m not old enough to buy the alcohol for my wedding then I’m not old enough to be getting married! Granted, I turn 21 in August of this year, but I still have two and half more years of school to get through and lots of student debit to get rid of before I even think about getting married. Plus, it seems like once you get married you tend to start a family really quickly and I’d rather spend my twenties reading good books, traveling, and experiencing new things!
I have had a glorious time re-reading this trilogy by Jenny Han! I recommend you check it out because who doesn’t love a good Jenny Han novel? Next up on the list is Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan! Happy reading bookworms!