Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

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.

Conrad and Belly left things badly.  Or should I say Belly did.  At his mother's funeral, she found him with his head in another girl's lap, the girl who broke his heart, and Belly told him she hated him.  Yes it was childish, but that's what love does sometimes, makes you act childish.  She spends the next few months pining over Conrad but also mourning the loss of Susannah.  She misses the attention she got from her, how she treated Belly and mostly she misses their summer at Cousins.  It just doesn't feel like summer.  Her best friend thinks she's carried on long enough, but she just doesn't understand.  For sixteen years, almost seventeen she'd lived at Cousins trying to fit in with the boys and this year, there was no Cousins, no Susannah.

But that all changes when Jeremiah calls and asks for her help in finding Conrad.  He's gone missing at school and missed two classes and has some exams coming up on Monday.  Jeremiah picks her up and she lies to her mom about where she'll be.  They take off for Brown, where Conrad is attending school.  His room mate is no help.  A quick hello to the RA gives them the information they need when he tells them he said something about going to the beach.  They find him at Cousins, his usual brooding, surly self.  He gives them no reason why he's there and they can't talk him into going back.

It's only when the boy's dad shows up that they understand why he's there.  Belly still loves him, but he is still aloof and she takes no chances on being hurt again until she gets drunk on their last night there.  Then she runs to the beach to swim and Conrad comes after her because she's too drunk to swim.  She taunts him and he tells her he won't follow her in.  She gets distracted and he picks her up and drops her on the beach.  By this time she's crying and apologizes for the way she acted the day of the funeral.  Conrad acts like it was nothing while Belly has carried the shame and guilt of it around for months.  She runs crying from the beach and crawls up to her room where she drunk dials her mom.  She spills her guts, then passes out with the phone off the hook.

The next morning, when Belly's mom shows up, everyone is surprised and they relay the events of the past few days.  She says she'll try to help.  After she leaves, Belly and  the Jeremiah have to help Conrad study for him exams.  They study most of the night and then Jeremiah drives them to Brown while Conrad studies.  Jeremiah has always been in love with Belly and knows he'd be good for her and during one of the times they are waiting for Conrad, they end up kissing.  Conrad sees them and is jealous.  Belly is confused all over again when he says he never loved her.  It's and up and down ride and there will be another book coming out in May next year.  Personally, I'd like to see Jeremiah punch Conrad in the face and Jeremiah and Belly live happily ever after, as much as you can.  Conrad is really detestable.  He strings her along, keeping her on the hook just enough to keep hope alive.  But Belly is the most frustrating.  She lets him treat her like dirt.  He leaves her at the prom, to walk home.  He didn't even bring her a corsage.  He acted like he didn't want to be there the whole time.  He doesn't call her.  Then at the funeral when she wants to be with him, he's with his ex-girlfriend.  But he still makes these flirty comments to her.  So she lets him keep her hoping when even if he does love her, he's never going to be there for her and she's never going to be able to count on him.

That was the frustrating part of this book.  For two books now, she's been mooning over Conrad and though between book one and two he called  her almost nightly, she didn't know if they were boyfriend and girlfriend.  Then there's Jeremiah who told her he liked her and who she can talk to and be with and laugh with.  Hello, wake up Belly!  First change your choice in boys and then change your nickname, you're not a toddler anymore.

I still loved this book and can't believe I have to wait this long to read what I hope will be the last in the series.  I only want it to be the last because I don't like waiting for sequels.  I love the characters and they had the appropriate feelings as to the loss of Susannah in this book.  Each character handled their grief differently, but they were all grieving.  The visit to Cousins helped to heal that wound a little.  If you liked the first novel, you'll love this second one and hate that you have to wait for the third one!  Again, this is PG for underage drinking and a possible swear word or two.

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