The Perfect Summer Book-to-Screen Adaptation

The sun is hot, the water is cool, and summer is on its way. When I was a teenager, one of my favourite teen series to read almost every summer was The Summer series by Jenny Han. Turns out this summer is an extra special one because The Summer I Turned Pretty is the latest of Han’s books to get adapted for the screen!

If you’re wondering where you’ve heard Jenny Han’s name before, she is the author of To All the Boys I Loved Before, which was adapted by Netflix a few years ago.

The Summer I Turned Pretty is the perfect beach read. It’s light and fluffy, like cotton candy, and leaves a sweet taste in your mouth. Belly Conklin has been going to Cousins Beach House since she was a little girl with her mother and brother. Cousins is where all the rules and routines of the school year melt away, as even Belly’s rigid and upstanding mother chills out as she spends her days with her childhood best friend, Susannah Beck. Susannah’s boys are practically like brothers to Belly: they’re always tossing her in the pool (belly flop style) and excluding her as they make special plans with only her brother.

But all that changes one summer, the summer Belly turns sixteen, the summer she turns pretty.

Belly is a typical sixteen-year-old, her main concerns are boys, swimming, and having fun, but she is torn between Conrad and Jeremiah. She’s been in love with Conrad every since she could remember, but suddenly both Conrad and Jeremiah notice her, which causes a lot of problems.

There isn’t a lot of depth to the Summer series; Belly comes off as childish and even churlish at times, but you definitely see growth in her as the series progresses and she grows up and matures. However, what Han does masterfully is capture the essence of teenage love, in all its sweetness and intenseness. Deciding between moody Conrad or fun Jeremiah is a matter of life or death for Belly, and the flashbacks to Belly’s childhood show us how serious this summer actually is to her.

As it is often the case with book to TV adaptations, there are some changes that Han, who is a producer for the show, and others have brought to the show. First of all, the book makes no mention of Belly’s ethnicity, but in the show, the actress they chose to play Belly is Asian, or possibly bi-racial. Diversity is always welcome! There is also a debutante ball, which is bound to bring some drama and heat to the plot, as well as some new characters. I am also eager to see how the show will handle some of the book’s open-endedness that fans have complained about for years.

The Summer I Turned Pretty is airing on Amazon Prime on June 17th and is based off of the first book. It has already been renewed for seasons two and three, which will presumably be based off of the other two books in the series. I can’t wait to watch and see how the book has been adapted. Will you be tuning in?

Film image: Peter Taylor / Prime Video