The Summer I Turned Pretty: Book vs Show (Spoiler Alert)

Teaser for The Summer I Turned Pretty's show. Source: IMDB

By Grace Wang and Megha Pendyala

The Summer I Turned Pretty is a TV show that was released June 2022 and based on Jenny Han’s novel of the same name. Jenny Han is also famous for writing the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy, where all three books were turned into films. Like To All the Boys, The Summer I Turned Pretty is also the first in a trilogy.

The show and novel are both about a girl, Belly, who visits Cousins Beach every summer to see her mother’s best friend. Her mother, Laurel, is best friends with Susannah, who has two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. Belly grew up every summer there, and during that time, obtained a massive crush on Conrad and a very close platonic relationship with Jeremiah. However, that was the case for all of the summers before: all of the summers where she wasn’t “pretty”. That all changed one summer—the summer she turned pretty.

The book and the TV show have pretty different adaptations of the same story, despite Jenny Han being an executive producer of the show. In both the book and the show, Belly has had a crush on Conrad since childhood, and this is the first summer that she feels like she can confess to him. However, things get messy when she gets closer to Jeremiah, who, near the end of the book, confesses that he likes her while she is dating another guy named Cam. Furthermore, this summer, Conrad is very different; he’s moody, he smokes, and he refuses to socialize with anyone. Despite her past feelings, Belly realizes that this is the summer she can finally get over Conrad by confessing and moving on to someone else. Things aren’t that simple, though, because it is the first time Conrad has started to hint that he likes her. In addition, Susannah’s breast cancer has returned, and this will most likely be her last summer. On top of all of that, Susannah and her husband are divorcing, which leads to tension in the Fisher family. This is where most of the similarities between the book and the show end.

In the book, Steven actually leaves the beach house towards the beginning of the summer to go on a college tour with his dad. This opens the door for the brothers, Conrad and Jeremiah, to make moves regarding their feelings. While she was dating Cam, the brothers felt threatened that someone could date Belly before either of them confessed their feelings. However, Jeremiah confesses his feelings first, and this prompts Belly to tell him that she is still in love with Conrad. The act of Jeremiah confessing gave her enough courage to confess her own feelings to Conrad. During all this, Cam accuses Belly of using him to make Conrad jealous, and they break up. Belly goes to tell Conrad that she likes him, and he tells her that he does too, but he doesn’t want to act on his feelings. He says some harsh things when Belly pushes him for an answer on why he doesn’t want to have a relationship. This makes Belly start to cry, and Jeremiah sees this and starts to fight with Conrad for making Belly cry. The moms have to break up the fight, and this is when Belly realizes the boys aren’t upset only because of their parents’ divorce or because of her, but because their mom’s cancer has returned. The book ends with Belly, Conrad, and Jeremiah having a midnight swim after Susannah’s confession. The final scene of the book is where Conrad calls Belly during the night on Christmas and asks her to sneak out and meet him. This is where Belly determines that all her summers have led to that very moment.

In the show, Belly breaks up with Cam when she realizes that she still has feelings for Conrad. Cam agrees, and then, one night, Belly and Conrad meet up and almost kiss. However, they are interrupted by Jeremiah, who sets off a sparkler out of jealousy. When Belly confronts Conrad about them almost kissing, he turns her away, which leaves Belly confused and hurt. That night, she meets Jeremiah at the pool by accident, and he confesses to her that although they were best friends, he wished sometimes that they were more than that. They end up kissing in the pool, and they begin to date. The biggest thing added to the show was the idea of a debutante ball. To attend the ball, Belly needs to find an escort, and she struggled with choosing between Cam, Conrad, and Jeremiah. She ends up going to the ball with Jeremiah, and while Jeremiah is outside figuring out that Susannah has cancer, Conrad takes Jeremiah’s place. After the dance, Jeremiah confronts Conrad about Susannah’s cancer, which leads to them fighting because Conrad knew the entire time. And this is how Belly and Jeremiah find out that Susannah has cancer. In addition, a few new characters were added to the show: Cleveland and Shayla. Shayla is Stephen’s girlfriend, and they must face several hardships together; she also attends the ball. Cleveland is Laurel’s boyfriend, and Conrad sails with him. Cleveland is also the one who figures out Conrad knew about Susannah’s cancer because of a mental breakdown Conrad has. The final scene of the show is Belly and Conrad kissing on the beach.

Season 2 of the show will be premiering in summer 2023 and will be based on the second book. Although the first season didn’t quite match up with the novel, it will be interesting to see what the cast and producers will come up with.