Is 'The Summer I Turned Pretty' Show Based on a Book? Well, Yes and No

·4 min read
Photo credit: Amazon Prime
Photo credit: Amazon Prime


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If you've been paying attention to shows on Amazon Prime this month, then you may have heard about their newest show, The Summer I Turned Pretty. The eight-episode series follows Isabel "Belly" Conklin (Lola Tung) as she spends the summer with her mother Laurel (Jackie Chung) and brother Steven (Sean Kaufman) at Cousin's Beach. But when she reunites with old family friends, things get interesting.

Surrounded by Laurel's friend Susannah (Rachel Blanchard), her sons, Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno) and Conrad (Christopher Briney), and another teen named Cam (David Iacono), Belly suddenly finds herself in an emotional love story she never saw coming.

It's the coming-of-age story we would have loved to experience but thankfully we can see it play out onscreen ... and possibly read about it? Since Amazon Prime has been billing the show to be a project from To All the Boys Ive Loved Before author Jenny Han, fans have been wondering whether the show has literary origins or is its own thing altogether. The answer may just surprise you ...

Photo credit: Peter Taylor - Amazon Prime
Photo credit: Peter Taylor - Amazon Prime

Is The Summer I Turned Pretty based on a book? How can I read The Summer I Turned Pretty books in order?

The Summer I Turned Pretty is based on a book of the same name by Jenny Han. But there's a catch. It turns out The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first in a trilogy of young-adult novels, all of which follow Belly, Jeremiah and Conrad through three very different summers.

As the show already got a second season renewal before episode one even premiered, there's a highly probable chance we'll get to see the story unfold from the other novels, It's Not Summer Without You and We'll Always Have Summer.

Does Susannah die in The Summer I Turned Pretty books? Who does Belly end up with in the books?

While long-time fans of the novels can appreciate the show taking inspiration from the books that came before, Amazon Prime's version does take some creative liberties to make the series stand out as its own story. Here are just a few of the differences we noticed while watching it and there are major spoilers ahead:

  • In the book, all the teens are aware of Susannah being diagnosed with cancer. At age 13, Belly and Jeremiah overhear their mothers discussing potential treatments for it. But in the show, none of the kids know the truth of Susannah's illness as she wants to have one last summer before going through chemo. Eventually Conrad finds out about his mother's disease in the pilot episode and Jeremiah learns after reading Susannah's emails on her phone during the season finale. As for whether Susannah dies in the books, she does but it happens in between the first and second book. Again, another potential difference between the show and novels.

  • In the novel, Steven is not a focal point. He goes on a road trip with his and Belly's dad, not being there for the majority of events. But the show not only gave him a storyline (a romantic one at that), he's also there to provide some much needed older sibling comic relief.

  • Throughout the original book, both Jeremiah and Conrad struggle with the news that their parents are divorcing. In the show, though, it's not clear whether Laurel and the boys' father are separating. But she does clue viewers into the fact that her husband cheated on her throughout the first round of chemo.

  • At some point in the novel, Jeremiah tells Belly he has romantic feelings for her. Belly, not reciprocating, tells him that she's still in love with his brother. The show, though, completely spins this storyline and actually gives the two the chance to be in a relationship. While Belly and Jeremiah do eventually become a serious couple by the third book, their romance becomes rocky when he cheats on her. Long story short: Belly and Conrad reunite before officially tying the knot.

Are you intrigued yet? Because we are ... so, don't mind if we go stream this again.

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