Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Prime Video series The Summer I Turned Pretty.
Prime Video’s coming-of-age series The summer I got pretty has quickly become a favorite summertime destination for teens and adults alike for its wonderful ode to first love and the beach. But before the show, it was already a hit novel from 2009 Jenny Hanwho also wrote it To all boys Trilogy that was later adapted into a film trilogy by Netflix. Han has long captured the hearts of readers through her books, which are sure to take you on a swooning adventure. So it’s not surprising that many want to see more of their characters and imagine the scenes they read from their books, translating the words on screen.
Much like all book-to-show adaptations, The summer I got pretty tweaked some details to better translate the content and bring the show into the modern age. However, the overall plot is still similar: Hopeless Romantic Belly (Lola Tun) does with her mother Laurel (Jackie Chung) and brother Steven (Sean Kaufman) to visit Susannah (Rachel Blanchard) and their two sons Conrad (Christopher Briney) and Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno) in a beach house in Cousins. However, this summer is different for Belly as she moves through the glasses-and-braces phase and has to come to terms with her feelings for the Fisher brothers and a new boy she meets, but most importantly tries to figure things out whether she loves Conrad, she still has a childhood crush.
Let’s take a look at the notable differences between the best-selling novel and its 2022 adaptation.
The Debutante Ball
In the series, Susannah challenges Belly to be part of the prestigious Debutantes Ball, a formal event to celebrate young women’s coming of age in a grand way. This plays a big part in the show as that’s where most of the big reveals happen, especially in the season finale. There is no Deb Ball at all in the book, and it may have been added to create more suspense and confusion for Belly regarding her feelings for the Fisher brothers.
Although not specifically mentioned in the book, Jeremiah is seemingly straight as he is shown to only be interested in girls. However, Jeremiah on the show flirts and makes out with both girls and boys and is said to be fluid in his sexuality. There are changes like this to get better representation, and this one has received a lot of praise online, especially for those exploring their identities.
There’s a world of difference when it comes to learning about Susannah’s cancer. In the book, everyone already knows what she’s dealing with, that she’s been through chemo and treatments, although initially they thought she was fine now. The show handled it a little differently, as they decided that no one but Laurel knew about her cancer. She’s keeping it a secret from her two boys, Belly and Steven, because she wants to spend the summer without them having to worry about her condition.
The twist they added to the show is that although Susannah tries hard not to tell anyone, Conrad actually somehow learns about it, which is the reason for his distant and passive demeanor throughout the show. Jeremiah and the others only find out during the debutante ball in the final episode.
Go back and forth in time
Reminiscing is always interesting, especially when used in a book to give more background on a particular character or event. Han added time jumps between chapters, and it’s mostly about Belly when she’s between 11 and 14 years old. There are mentions of early memories in the show, but it’s not overly detailed compared to the book. For example, there is a chapter where Belly, Taylor and the boys play truth or dare and it is not mentioned in the series.
Belly’s best friend Taylor (Rain Spencer), would only be present in the book in flashbacks. But Taylor has a bigger role on the show as she actually visits cousins and stays at the beach house twice to spend the summer with Belly and meet new people. At one point, they almost get in a fight over the whole thing with Taylor and Steven, but they make it up to them in the end when Taylor comes the second time.
Belly’s first kiss
In the book, Belly mentions that her first kiss was Jeremiah when they were playing Truth or Dare and that she has mixed feelings about it as she is in love with Conrad at the time and wants their first kiss to be special. The show doesn’t specifically say if Jeremiah is her first kiss or who her first kiss ever is.
The Infinity Necklace
Belly often celebrated her birthdays in Cousins and this time she is turning 16. She goes downstairs and sees her loved ones preparing food and giving her gifts. Conrad claims he forgot to buy something, and Belly didn’t want to appear disappointed on the outside. What has changed is that in the show, Belly goes to Conrad’s room and sees that he has a gift for her, which is an infinity necklace. While in the book there is no mention of the necklace. Only in the sequel It’s not summer without youthat it is mentioned.
Steven leaves Cousins early
Those who first watched the series and became accustomed to Steven may be saddened to find out that he actually leaves Cousins early in the book instead of staying all summer. In the book, Steven is out looking at colleges and Belly mentions he’s going and going with her dad to explore his options, so he’s not around often. Steven has a bigger role on the show and even has his own romance with a new character, Shayla (Minnie Mills), a rich young woman who is also part of the debutante ball.
A closer look at Laurel
Aside from the show’s decision to include more details about Laurel and Susannah’s beautiful friendship, viewers will also be able to see Laurel’s life with more depth. On the show, Laurel is a writer struggling to find her rhythm following her divorce. She meets her fellow writer Cleveland (Alfredo Narcisco) at a bookstore, and despite the awkward first meeting, they later hit it off and even met in the later episodes.
The final scene of the show shows Belly and Conrad sitting on the beach after the debutantes’ ball and learning about Susannah’s cancer. Conrad apologizes to Belly for his behavior and later confesses that he has feelings for her. It ends with them kissing and telling Belly how it all finally falls into place. However, the book ends with Belly and Conrad dating after the summer.
The summer I got pretty is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video and has already been renewed for another season, so there are even more ways to catch your favorite moments on your screens.