Book Review,  Pop Culture

Season 2 of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” Vs. the Book

This post contains spoilers for both the second season of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and the books the show is based on.

Having recently binged both seasons of the Amazon Prime series “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and the books that inspired it, I wanted to share my thoughts on how the second season was different from book, “It’s Not Summer Without You.” While the first season of the show ended with Conrad declaring his feelings for Belly and kissing her on the beach, the second season begins with Belly admitting Susannah has died and she and Conrad are no longer together.

While “The Summer I Turned Pretty” is only told from Belly’s perspective, “It’s Not Summer Without You” also weaves in thoughts from Jeremiah. The second season follows that formula. He talks about the difficulty in watching his mother get sicker and sicker with cancer while Conrad was off at Brown University. In the book, Jeremiah also gets angry when he hears how Conrad treated Belly at her prom, knowing how important it was to her.

Here’s how the second season of the show was different from the book:

-In the book, Susannah does not have a half-sister who has taken control of the summer house in Cousins and put it up for sale. The show follows a storyline with Kyra Sedgwick playing the part of Conrad and Jeremiah’s aunt and Elsie Fisher as their non-binary cousin Skye. The group of kids (including Belly’s old flame Cam Cameron) band together to try and keep Aunt Julia from selling the house. They don’t succeed, and Conrad and Jeremiah’s dad doesn’t seem interested in using the boys’ trust funds to buy out their aunt. At the end of the show, he tells them he’ll sell their main house in Boston in order to buy the house back from their aunt. In the book, Belly’s mom Laurel bullies Adam Fisher into not selling the house. (He claims he wants to sell it because it reminds him too much of Susannah).

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-Throughout the second season, Belly is also portrayed as pursuing Jeremiah, developing feelings for him, while in the book, she is still conflicted over her feelings for Conrad.

-The book and show both have the kids helping Conrad pull an overnighter so he can go back to Brown and pass his exams. In the show, Conrad gives Belly his Brown sweatshirt in the car when she is cold on the drive back, but in the book, she buys one herself when she’s visiting the student store while Conrad is taking his final exams. In the show Jeremiah takes her to visit Finch College while they are waiting on Conrad to finish his exams, because that’s where he will be going and she is thinking about going there, too.

-In the show, Conrad is portrayed as still having feelings for Belly and wanting to tell her after his exams, even though he plans to move across the country to attend Stanford University. In the book, that’s not as clear. His feelings only really comes through when he catches Belly and Jeremiah together.

-The pivotal scene in the show where Belly kisses Jeremiah on the Brown campus is different from the book. In the book, Jeremiah is jealous over Belly asking if Conrad ever talks about her. After he surprises her with a kiss, she decides she is receptive to having a relationship with him.

-Again, in the book, Conrad’s character seems to be filled with anger and resentment so much of the time, and in the show, he’s more hurt than anything. In the final scene, it’s obvious what he’s saying does not match what he feels in his heart. Conrad is humanized much more in the show.

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-The second season ended very much like the book, with Conrad pretending he doesn’t still care for Belly and her leaving with Jeremiah. (In the scene where they all have to stay in the motel together, he tells Belly he still wants her after Jeremiah falls asleep, but takes it back the next day per his usual modus operandi so Belly can move on and find happiness with his brother).

But the last page of “We’ll Always Have Summer” gives a bit of foreshadowing to keep the reader guessing:

“This wasn’t the way I pictured it. Me, in a white dress in the pouring rain, running for the car. Him, running ahead of me and opening the passenger door.”

You have to read the third book to find out who the “him” is. But I’ve seen fans discuss the parallels between the end of the third book, “We’ll Always Have Summer,” and the debutante ball added into the first season of the show where Belly danced with Conrad in her white dress. We’ll see if the third season stays true to the book. If you haven’t read the final book, you finally get to hear Conrad’s side of the story.

Fun Easter Egg: Author Jenny Han makes an appearance at the convenience store where Belly, Conrad, and Jeremiah stop to try and buy alcohol for their blow-out party at the house.

What other differences between the book and show did you spot?

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