15 Key Differences Between ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ Book and New TV Show

Amazon’s The Summer I Turned Pretty is, in large part, a tender series that pays homage to experiences teenagers face as they come of age. However, for many it is a nostalgic revisit to a Jenny Han trilogy—except, this time around, its beloved characters and the fictional town of Cousins Beach come to life on screen in a truly pinch-me moment.

The new TV show still follows 16-year-old Belly during a formative summer at Cousins as she vacations with her mother Laurel, her brother Steven, her mother’s best friend Susannah, and Susannah’s two sons, Jeremiah and Conrad. The book’s original fans will recall that Belly’s been in love with Conrad for ages, and it’s during this summer trip that he starts to reciprocate those feelings. The twist? Jeremiah and another boy Cam do, too.

Though the series still follows this original book storyline, there are also many departures that author and co-showrunner Jenny intentionally incorporated—and TBH we love them all! Below, find 15 key differences between The Summer I Turned Pretty book and the TV show. Warning: many, many spoilers ahead!

  1. In the book: The kids know about Susannah having cancer. The book even recalls the summer Belly was 13 when she and Jeremiah bonded after they both overhead Susannah talking to Laurel about her potential treatments and crying over the possibility of a mastectomy.

    In the show: The secret is totally withheld from the kids because Susannah insists on having a last “normal” summer together at Cousins. However, Conrad comes into the first episode aware of the disease, and it’s the reason he acts super different, whereas Jeremiah finds out after he steals his mother’s phone and reads her emails during the show’s final episode.

  2. In the book: Taylor, Belly’s best friend from back home, has a crush on Jeremiah.

    In the show: Plot twist! This time around, Taylor actually has a crush on Belly’s brother Steven and even comes between him and his love interest, Shayla.

  3. In the book: Speaking of Steven…in the book, he literally leaves the beach house to go on a college road trip with his dad.

    In the show: Steven is at the house the whole time and has his own romantic storyline. Plus, he’s also present for some hilarious older brother content.

  4. ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ by Jenny Han

    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

  5. In the book: Belly’s first kiss was Jeremiah who was, at the time, trying to make Taylor jealous.

    In the show: The protagonist’s first kiss at Cousins is actually Cam, a guy she knew from back home because they went to the same school and even attended the Washington Latin convention together in eighth grade. In the book, Belly also didn’t know Cam before their kiss at a bonfire on the beach.

  6. In the book: Cam breaks things off with Belly because he knows she has feelings for one of Susannah’s boys.

    In the show: Belly ends things with Cam, though we find out that he still definitely knows who she’s crushing on.
  7. In the book: Jeremiah and Conrad grapple with the fact that their mother is getting a divorce from their father.

    In the show: Though Susannah confesses to Laurel that she is over the relationship with her husband, a divorce isn’t exactly set in stone. Rather, we know there’s a lot of tension between the two because he cheated on Susannah while she was undergoing her first round of chemo.

  8. In the book: When Jeremiah confesses his feelings for Belly, she hits him with the news that she’s ultimately still in love with Conrad. Womp, womp!

    In the show: Belly actually explores a relationship with Jeremiah, which definitely adds some *drama* and creates even more tension between the brothers.

  9. new york city premiere of prime video series

    Craig BarrittGetty Images

  10. In the book: The Summer I Turned Pretty ends with Belly getting surprised by a winter visit from Conrad in her hometown. This is pretty much how we know the two end up choosing each other and that the eldest brother finally confessed his feelings.

    In the show: The show’s first season ends with the two together being on the beach and finally (!!) kissing.

  11. In the book: We’re pretty much relegated to a core group of characters under the same household.

    In the show: We say hello to a slew of new faces, from Steven and Conrad’s love interests to a whole cast of people who are also partaking in the debutante ball with Belly. Speaking of which…

  12. In the book: There aren’t many events bringing everyone together, save for Belly’s birthday and the Fourth of July.

    In the show: There’s an entire country club debutante ball, which introduces a completely new story element. This alternate storyline not only helps get Belly out of the house so that she can interact with new characters, but it also parallels her personal journey. “The story is really about Belly’s coming of age and growing up and I was just thinking about the different ways that we have those ceremonial rights, where we really celebrate someone coming into adulthood,” Jenny told TV Insider and noted bar mitzvahs and Quinceañeras as examples.

  13. In the book: The storyline mainly focuses on the kids and their drama.

    In the show: We dig further into Laurel and Susannah’s relationship. Jenny also revealed on TV Insider: “I was excited to tell that story because I think that we don’t as often see the parents on teen shows having their own lives…I wanted both of those women to feel like they were more than just the roles of a mother or a wife, but that they had their own rich in their lives.” Obsessed!

  14. In the book: All of the characters pretty much conform to heteronormative roles throughout the trilogy.

    In the show: Jenny used the adaptation to introduce more LGBTQ+ characters into the mix—most notably in the case of Jeremiah, who is bisexual and has scenes where he is flirting with and kissing boys as well as girls. One of the girls partaking in the debutante ball also chooses her girlfriend to be her escort in a super-sweet moment.

  15. Amazon Prime Video

    ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ on Amazon Prime Video

    Amazon Prime Video
    Amazon Prime Video


  16. In the book: Instagram? No. FaceTime sessions? Negative. Emojis?!?! Never. Because the series’ first book was first published in 2009, the tech aspects were kiiiind of lacking.

    In the show: Let’s just say Belly teaches her mom what a verification status means on Instagram, and she FaceTimes Taylor to dish on the latest gossip. Jenny herself revealed to Variety that she wanted to incorporate more texting and social media into the storytelling. “To me, the essence of the character is still the same. It’s just, how would I write this person in 2022 versus how I wrote them 13 years ago?,” the author mused.

  17. In the book: Laurel remains dedicated to helping Susannah during the summer and being there for all the kids.

    In the show: Belly’s mom has a main character moment after splitting from her ex and ends up hooking up with a fellow author in her own summer romance. Honestly, I’m here for it!

  18. In the book: Pop culture references are sprinkled throughout the pages, but are relatively low-key.

    In the show: Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, and Ariana Grande pop anthems are on repeat throughout the episodes, and there’s even an event where Frank Ocean is said to attend that excites the kids.

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