Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach? It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Counsins 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.
There's no doubt in my mind when I say that I've fallen in love with this series and with the characters Belly, Conrad and Jeremiah. Right from the very beginning. From the start of summer til the end of it. Not only does this series have every bit of element I love in my books - the summers, the romance, the heartbreak, the conflicts - but it only goes to show how much this one author, Jenny Han, rocks my world and yet again she delivers a fantastic novel to add to her name.
Belly had thought things were perfect after what happened during the most incredible and heart-changing summer . . . but she couldn't have been more wrong. Everything has changed now and not even her summers will ever be the same again. When one of her childhood best friends, Jeremiah, calls to ask for her help in finding his older brother, Conrad, as you can imagine, Belly is still very conflicted with her emotions regarding Conrad, especially how things ended with him from the first book, The Summer I Turned Pretty. But when you hold such strong feelings for someone, you cannot simply refuse them and in Belly's case Conrad will forever be in heart, and she will always be there for him even if it means being only a friend to him. But there's a question that still remains: Can Belly finally get some closure with her lost-love and childhood crush or will seeing Conrad again stir up those old feelings of hers and complicate matters even further than she first anticipated?
I won't go into greater detail about the plot, but it was equally as fantastic as the first installment. Han's writing alone comes alive instantly through what seems like endless of pages and flows so easily too, with each and every shining word you read. The thing I love about this author, Jenny Han, is her ability to know how to reach out to her readers on a personal level and knowing that teenagers will always do stupid things or make the wrong decisions at the wrong times, and I guess that's why I love this author so much because of the realism she adds to her storylines. Even her male characters have a touch of realism to them and aren't presented as these perfect and untouchable beings. She is instead presenting these males with some screwed-up flaws that can easily become one of their strengths. Yes, this book is perfect no matter the cracks on the surface.
Regarding the wonderful set of characters, Belly remains one of my favourite gals. She's stronger than ever before, she has a weakness for love (which we love most about her) but knows how to contain it, and she's still the same old girl who is always there for everyone else when they are in need. And while Belly has discovered many things about herself and about the boys she loves, and even about her own family and friends, but in this sequel I found that she still has a long way to go in learning about what it truly means to let go of the past and move forward with life. Same goes with the love interests of the story - Conrad and Jeremiah. Both boys have their own complications and feelings towards many different things including their feelings for Belly, but no matter the drama and no matter what comes out of their frustrating-but-sexy mouths, they will forever hook me. I admit Conrad was a bit harder in personality than previously seen in the first book and even Jeremiah has changed too, but the thing about these two boys right here, is that they come together as a team through the hardest times of life and honestly there's not one bad thing I've got to say about them. Flaws and all . . . they're perfect just the way they are and are just as perfect as this perfect book of Jenny Han's!
Overall, IT'S NOT SUMMER WITHOUT YOU was a shining star for me and was a hundred times better than the first book in the series. It was far more intense for me and because of that I cried, I laughed, I was a damn right mess and I always felt frustrated . . . but clearly this book was way, way too good for its own good if you get my meaning! If you love YA realism, beautiful romances and down-to-earth friendships and all of the little teenage drama inbetween, then this book should have a permanent place on your bookshelf because I loved every single moment of it!