Title: It’s Not Summer Without You
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach?
It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins 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.
Last fall, I believe, is when I read the first book in this trilogy, so I decided to wait for a more appropriate time (ie, summer) before I read the second book. I feel like this one had the same strengths and weaknesses as the first book, but I still overall enjoyed reading it.
The beginning is the least summer-esque part of the book. Belly (seriously, why does she go by that name – why not Bella or Isabella or Isabelle or whatever her name is – no wonder she seems so young much of the time) is still reeling from the loss of their family friends Susannah, along with most of the other people in her life. She’s stuck at home for summer for the first time in pretty much ever, and she’s pretty miserable. I definitely felt that miserableness, and thus the beginning wasn’t the most pleasant or interesting part for sure.
This book focuses mostly on Belly, as well as Conrad an Jeremiah, trying to recapture different things – their regular old summer, various relationships, and such. There are some flashbacks that help us figure out what’s happened in the year since the previous summer/book, but it all contributes to the three trying to move forward.
I continue to be unsure how I feel about Belly. She can seem quite young and selfish and such, but sometimes she does seem older and more interesting. Jeremiah also got some chapters from his point of view, and I found myself quite a bit more interested in his chapter than Belly’s. The characters I really want to know more about continues to be the adults in the series, though, like Belly’s mother and the boys’ late mother, but they seemed like an even smaller presence than in the previous book, especially since poor Susannah is no longer a living character.
Once again, when we get to the scenes involving the beach, it makes me want to go to the beach and thus makes me very jealous of the characters because I’m not there and unfortunately won’t be this year. So, it’s both nice, since it gives me the chance to go to the beach through the writing, but also awful because I’m so jealous!
The Adult Situation
As I mentioned, there was even less of a parental presence in this book, which was quite disappointing since I would have liked to see more of the adult dynamics. It’s summer vacation and her mother has sort of checked out since the death of her best friend, so there was a lot of freedom, both good and bad, for Belly during this book.
To be honest, I was pretty sick of all the romantic drama in this book. Belly is stuck between the two boys, but mostly hung up on Conrad, and I really don’t know why. Conrad can be a jerk, while Jeremiah can be a great friend and generally good guy. I know that love doesn’t always make sense and all that, but seriously, why should I be rooting for a relationship with a mysterious and jerky guy like Conrad?
By the end, I was the most interested in this book, but there was quite a bit of romantic drama at the end that also kept me from getting too into the book because I kept saying to myself “why does there have to be so much freaking drama?” I could have done without it. Belly also had a fight with her best friend that wasn’t resolved at all, so hopefully that’ll be dealt with in the final book. I wasn’t a huge fan of her friend, but I still want to see Belly actually have friends, so I want it to be addressed.
I know I complained a lot, but I did enjoy this book. It definitely wasn’t a new favorite, but it’s still a solid book and I want to see how everything gets resolved in the final book of the trilogy, which is currently sitting in my to-read stack waiting to be read.