The Summer I Turned Pretty Season Two: A Reread of It’s Not Summer Without You


Today marks the premiere of the first three episodes of The Summer I Turned Pretty Season Two! This season, which is now streaming on Prime Video, releases episodes every week from now until August 18th. The second season is based on the second book in The Summer I Turned Pretty (TSITP) trilogy, It’s Not Summer Without You, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in 2010. Last summer, prior to Season One’s release, I wrote a blog about Rereading The Summer I Turned Pretty 10 Years Later. To follow up on that blog and prepare for Season Two, I had to share my thoughts and speculations on the second book! 

For anyone who has not read The Summer I Turned Pretty or seen the first season, there are spoilers ahead for both!!! Read and watch, then come back to this blog! 

A brief summary: It’s Not Summer Without You picks up Belly’s story in the months following Susannah Fisher’s death. The Conklin family and the Fisher boys are all grieving the loss of both Susannah and their sacred summers at Cousins Beach. Belly is also dealing with her breakup with Conrad – who has recently disappeared. When Jeremiah calls Belly asking for help looking for Conrad, the two venture out to track down the older Fisher brother. Told in flashbacks and present narration, Belly reflects on the good and bad days with Conrad, new revelations about Jeremiah, and the aftermath of Susannah’s death. Sundrenched in heartbreak and hope, this summer is more complicated than ever. 

As I reread It’s Not Summer Without You, I realized how much I didn’t actually remember what happened in the second book. I vaguely recalled that the book revealed how Belly and Conrad fell apart, and how that left room for Belly to kindle a new relationship with Jeremiah, but I was not expecting to be so drawn into the drama and heartbreak. Like I said in my previous TSITP blog, I’m not one for love triangles… but the Belly/Conrad/Jeremiah saga just hits different! Maybe it’s the nostalgia factor, or just anticipation for Season Two, but the build up of Belly talking about current-day events alongside the flashbacks to show what happened between her and Conrad had me hooked. Jenny Han knows how to capture teenage angst. By the end of It’s Not Summer Without You, Belly has realized that Conrad may still harbor feelings for her, but he’ll never come right out and say it. Belly sees that Jeremiah has and will be there for her without the emotional whiplash that she had with Conrad. I can’t wait to see their story played out by actors Lola Tung, Cristopher Briney, and Gavin Calego. 

To talk more about the Belly/Conrad arc, a significant part of the book is Belly’s infinity necklace. The necklace is discovered by Belly in the second book originally, but it ended up being gifted to her in the first season of the show. Much like the show’s explanation of the necklace, Conrad bought the necklace for Belly but never actually gave it to her. After Belly finds the necklace early in the story, she wears it up until the two officially part ways at the end of the second book. The necklace is symbolic of Belly and Conrad’s relationship, and in the book, is connected to a lot more of Conrad’s actions that prove to Belly that he loved her. This makes it all the more heartbreaking (and totally frustrating for Team Conrad fans) when Conrad tells her to take off the necklace and denies his feelings for Belly. I’m sure this scene will be in Season Two and, frankly, I’m not sure my heart will ever be ready for the heartbreak. 

In addition to the romantic plotlines and conflicts, a major point of tension in the book is the fact that Mr. Fisher is selling the house in Cousins Beach– which drove Conrad to disappear at the start of the book. Belly and Jeremiah end up finding Conrad in Cousins, and the memories Belly has in the house and of Susannah were so bittersweet. This conflict is resolved by Mr. Fisher agreeing to keep the house, so long as Conrad returns to school and finishes his summer term. Based on what we’ve seen in the trailer, this plotline might be the one with the most obvious changes in the show. It looks like we’ll be getting new characters involved in selling the house, and the whole ensemble of characters will be gathering together to prevent that from happening. We’ll see how the story plays out, but I actually am looking forward to more screen time with the whole ensemble. It makes more sense to utilize the great cast of characters, and it’ll give viewers more time to connect with the house. 

Now I can’t talk about the Season Two trailer without mentioning the fact we have not one, but two, Taylor Swift songs featured! The first song revealed in the season’s teaser trailer was “august” from the singer’s album folklore. “august” is so fitting for the wistful and melancholic feeling of the end of summer, and the new arrangement in the trailer just sounds incredible. The second song, which debuted in the full trailer prior to the song’s official release, was “Back to December (Taylor’s Version)” from the album Speak Now (Taylor’s Version). The surprise was pretty spectacular for me as a huge Speak Now fan, but it also fits so perfectly with the Christmas flashback between Belly and Conrad in the second book. It’s Not Summer Without You is shrouded in heartbreak and grief, and “Back to December (Taylor’s Version)” conveys so much emotion that fills Belly and Conrad’s characters. Truly a genius song choice from author, showrunner, and fellow Swiftie, Jenny Han! 

Season Two of The Summer I Turned Pretty won’t be an exact play-by-play of It’s Not Summer Without You, but I have full trust in Jenny Han’s vision. I loved Season One, and I am so ready to see how Belly’s story will continue on screen. Stream the first three episodes on Prime Video right now, and tune in weekly for new Cousins Beach content! 

PRR Assistant Director, Erika Brittain