It can be a double-edged sword when a bestselling book is followed by a screen adaptation. Fans want the same magic they felt as they flipped through the pages. But sometimes a movie or TV series takes new avenues with its plots and characters. Just take Outlander or To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. In some cases, this can bring characters to life in a new way. In others, it can leave fans disappointed.
The Summer I Turned Pretty creators aimed to exceed expectations with its new seven-episode series on Amazon Prime. However, some of the plotlines and love interests across Season 1 play out differently than they do in the book.
Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for Season 1 of The Summer I Turned Pretty as well as the first novel in the Jenny Han trilogy.
‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ is based on a trilogy by Jenny Han
The Summer I Turned Pretty is based on the first book in a trilogy by Jenny Han. Fans might recognize Han for authoring the To All the Boys trilogy and participating in its on-screen Netflix adaptation. Now, a series Han published prior is coming to life on Amazon Prime.
Newcomer Lola Tung plays Isabel “Belly” Conklin, who spends each summer with her family on Cousins Beach, staying with her mother’s best friend and her two sons. She’s always had a crush on Conrad Fisher (Christopher Briney) and has been best friends with his younger brother Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno). Now, during the summer she turns 16, she finds herself in a love triangle with the two.
The first book is followed by It’s Not Summer Without You and We’ll Always Have Summer. The books don’t always stay at Cousins Beach, though it remains a pivotal location in the entire series.
Belly ends up with Conrad Fisher in ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ book
We’ll keep the secret for how Season 1 of the show ends, in case your streaming queue is a little delayed this summer. But, know that things go a little differently for Belly in Season 1 compared to the plot in the book.
In the first book, Belly starts a short-lived fling with another vacationer named Cam (David Iacono), who is the first boy to tell her she’s beautiful. It ends before it gathers much momentum, though, and Belly is free to get back to pining away for Conrad. In the book, she turns down any advances from Jeremiah and is focused solely on capturing the attention of his older brother.
Conrad rejects Belly when she first confesses her feelings for him, which leads to an argument between the brothers. Conrad has been pensive and moody all summer. Bustle explains it’s largely because of the revelation that his mother Susannah (Rachel Blanchard) has a likely-fatal form of cancer. The two families reel from the news in their own ways, ultimately deciding to make the best of the time they have at the beach house together. As the book draws to a close, Belly and Conrad are together.
Even Jenny Han can’t say if she’s Team Conrad or Team Jeremiah
Though the ending of the first book is a win for #TeamConrad fans everywhere, it’s safe to say there will be bumps in the road ahead — otherwise Han wouldn’t need to follow it with two more novels. We’ll put additional spoilers on hold for now, but if you’re still not sure which Fisher brother you’d like Belly to end up with, you’re not the only one. Even Han found herself oscillating between the two as she was writing the books. In an interview with Variety, she wouldn’t definitively say whose team she’s on.
“I definitely had moments of going back and forth for sure, because I think in order to write these characters, you have to love them and you have to understand them and have empathy for them,” Han explained. “And my heart would definitely turn just like Belly’s would.”
Amazon has already ordered a second season of the show, giving Han a chance to bring Part 2 in the book series to life. Though Season 3 isn’t a guarantee, it would certainly make it easier to tell the story behind the trilogy. Even though the books lay a clear framework for who Belly ultimately ends up with, Han makes no promises about whether the screen adaptations will follow the same script.
“When I was doing Jeremiah’s POV [point of view] in the second book, I was very much swayed in all directions,” Han told Variety. “I don’t want to spoil too much but the books have been out for a while. You never know what could happen with the show. I was open minded going in to it. I was considering a lot of different possibilities.”
All seven episodes of The Summer I Turned Pretty are available to stream on Amazon Prime.