Friday, May 17, 2013

We'll Always Have Summer (Book Review)

Friday, May 17, 2013 10:57 AM with No comments

We'll Always Have Summer (Summer, #3)

We'll Always Have Summer

Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Number of Pages: 291
Release Date: April 26, 2011

My Rating: 1.5 out of 5

**Synopsis contains spoilers for the first two books in the series**

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.


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This whole review is going to be FULL of spoilers. Not only for the first two books in the series, but for this book itself. This book was released two years ago and is the final book of a series whose first book was released in 2009. In this review I'm going to be discussing what made this book so problematic for me which I am unable to do without giving away some MAJOR plot points. Please don't read this review if you have any interest in reading the book or the series...

You've been warned.

I was pretty late to the party on this series. I read the first one in 2011, two years after it was released; the second in 2012, two years after it was released; and just finished this book yesterday...two years after it was released. I can't really explain why it took me so long to read the second and third book since both had already been released by the time I picked up the first in the series. I obviously cared enough about the characters to finish their story, but I never really connected with it and picked this book up just to find out who she ended up with. I had my clear favorite (like anybody who reads a trilogy that is literally just about a love triangle). 

Like the synopsis states, Jeremiah and Belly have been together for the past two years, pretty much since her and Conrad broke up (because it's super healthy to jump right into another relationship when your heart's been broken...especially with the dude's brother). The two attend the same college along with Belly's best friend. Jeremiah has joined a frat and the two are attending a party at the beginning of the story when Belly overhears a girl bragging to her friends about she and Jeremiah had hooked up in Cabo (or wherever) over Spring Break. Belly is obviously furious. It turns out that Jeremiah and her were "on a break" (um, seriously, was the author watching Friends when she wrote this), so maybe it wasn't technically cheating, but the "break" was only for the week that he was gone and Belly told him she knew the entire time that they would get back together, so how could he not have known? Blah, blah, blah. So Belly goes home and cries and ignores his texts for, like, a day, and then Jeremiah comes over and proposes and Belly says...yes. 

And this is where the entire novel broke down for me. If I had read this book when I was a teenager I may have been swept away by the romanticized view of marriage, but as an adult and as a married woman, I couldn't help but scoff at the idea. It's impossible for teenagers to understand how hard marriage is. I'm sorry. But it's the truth. I'm happily married. I love my husband, but marriage takes a lot of hard work (as evidenced by the almost 50% divorce rate). I cannot even fathom marrying somebody who (1) was 18 (2) I'd never lived with and (3) whom I'd never had sex with! Listen, I'm not judging when a girl/woman should lose the big V. I'm not. Who a girl sleeps with for the first time (for the 100th time) is important and personal and should never be judged by anyone else. But. But the fact that Belly would still a virgin rang false to me. Her reason for never sleeping with Jeremiah was that there hadn't been "the right time." In two years. It wasn't because she was religious or had some other deeply held belief about saving herself. She just wanted it to be special. Which is fine. It should be special, but if in two years there hasn't been the right time, then it is because it isn't the right guy. How could she not see this? Why would she want to marry somebody who she doesn't even seem attracted to? 

Belly and Jeramiah announce their upcoming nuptials at dinner with her mom and his dad and, of course, her mom freaks out saying she's too young to get married and orders Belly into her car, which Belly does, because she doesn't have anywhere else to go because school's out for the summer and she lives in the dorm! If you are too young to have your own place, you are too young to get married. Period. 

My biggest issue with this book isn't even that Belly is about to marry Jeremiah even though my preference has always been Conrad, my biggest issue was the complete and udder lack of joy about the book. The novel (and, let's be honest) the whole series is full of angsty drama. But this one is the worst offender. It's clear from the beginning that this entire wedding is a mistake. A rash decision after an argument that has steam-rolled out of control. Belly doesn't even seem happy about the choice she's made. In this final installment, Jeremiah's character is immature and impulsive. He's joined a frat, he cheated on Belly, he wants their wedding song to be "You Never Can Tell" (*sings offkey*...It was a teenage wedding and the old folks wished them well...you know, from Pulp Fiction), he wants to live in the nosy, party apartment with the "cool" landlord, not the quiet apartment in the neighborhood populated by mostly older people that Belly's attracted to, he has bad credit because even though his father pays his credit card bill, he got himself a different credit card and has been late on his payments "a couple of times." This characterization is to show that they truly aren't ready to get married. With each transgression, you can see Belly start to question their decision, as she should, but it just made the novel trying and joyless.  

After Belly's mother refuses to support the decision, Belly runs away to the beach house (of course) and finds that Conrad is also living there for the summer (of course). Jeremiah is uneasy about this, but has to stay in the city during the week for his internship. Nothing happens between Belly and Conrad, but you can feel the pull of the two characters towards each other. Belly knows that at least a part of her still loves Conrad, even though she loves Jeremiah, too. Conrad finally mans up and admits that he still loves Belly, too. Leaving her to make a decision once and for all of which brother she is going to choose. 

I thought this novel was a mess. I listened to the Playaway version of this novel, which only added to my dislike. The narrator had a pretty annoying voice to begin with, but then she would occasionally slip into this, like, "little girl voice", that just grated on my nerves. The audio book was just shy of 7 hours, but it felt like 100. I couldn't wait for the book to just be over, but I felt like I had just gotten too far into the book and the series, to stop listening. The book ended on a satisfying note, but by that point it was way too late to salvage the book for me. 

I truly do enjoy Jenny Han's writing. Earlier this week I listened to Burn for Burn, her collaboration with Siobhan Vivian, (which I'd already read the print version of) and really enjoyed it. I'm very excited to start the second book of that series, so it definitely isn't the author. I will continue to look for her books, but this particular book just wasn't the one for me.

As I'm sure many of you know, it's hard to write a review about a book you didn't like that is much beloved by the rest of the reading community. I'm most definitely in the minority here as evidenced by the many, many 4 and 5 star reviews I see when I look at my friends ratings. (So, please don't hurt me.)

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Hello, there! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I read each and every one and will do my best to respond--usually on your blog instead of on mine. I will, however, always answer direct questions. Due to serious time restraints, this blog is now an award free zone, but I appreciate the thought!