3 Sentence Summary
“It’s Not Summer Without You” is the second novel in Jenny Han’s Summer series, which explores the theme of loss and its impact on relationships. The book alternates between narrators, Jeremiah and Conrad, and moves between the present and past. It shares the characters’ perspectives on the death of Susannah and its effect on their lives and relationship with Belly.
Summary Read Time: Less than 4 minutes
Actual Book Length: 275
First Published in: 2010
Below is the detailed yet quick summary of the book:
The book begins with the protagonist, Belly, having a daydream about spending summer with her family, Susannah, Jeremiah, and Conrad. However, her friend Taylor interrupts her dream, reminding her of the sad reality that Susannah has passed away and they will no longer be visiting the beach house where they spent every summer together.
Belly had been struggling with the loss of Susannah and her relationship with Conrad, her long-time crush. Things between them had been going well until Susannah’s cancer returned, causing a strain on their relationship. Belly, feeling helpless and devastated, ended things with Conrad at prom and ran away crying. They did not speak until Susannah’s funeral where Belly promised herself she would be strong for Conrad, but she couldn’t control her emotions when she saw him talking to an ex-girlfriend. This incident sent her into a deep depression, from which she saw no way out.
Belly receives a call from Jeremiah, Conrad’s brother, who informs her that Conrad has disappeared from Brown University and is in danger of failing his summer classes. Jeremiah, who has a crush on Belly, asks for her help in finding Conrad. Belly, wanting to make amends for her previous actions, agrees to sneak away with Jeremiah to find Conrad.
They drive to Brown University and find out that Conrad has gone surfing. They deduce that he is at the beach house in Cousins and take Conrad’s laptop and textbooks with them to help him study. While searching through Conrad’s things, Belly finds an infinity-symbol necklace and realizes it was meant for her and that Conrad still loved her.
When they arrive at the beach house, Conrad is annoyed to see them and tells them to leave, but they stay and spend the day drinking beer together. The next day, a real estate agent arrives and argues with Conrad about selling the house. Conrad explains to Belly that his father wants to sell the house to erase Susannah’s memory because of his infidelity. Conrad is not skipping school for fun, but to save his mother’s house. He asks Belly to keep it a secret from Jeremiah, which she agrees to.
The story opens with Belly, who is struggling with the loss of her close family member and the end of a summer tradition. She receives a call from her best friend Taylor, who convinces her to help find her former crush Conrad, who has gone missing from college. Together with Conrad’s brother, Jeremiah, Belly sets off to find Conrad. Along the way, she discovers a necklace meant for her, and that Conrad truly loved her.
Upon arriving at the beach house, they find Conrad in a bad mood and unresponsive to Belly. The next day, a real estate agent arrives to tell Conrad that his father is selling the house. Conrad reveals that he is trying to save the house, as it holds many memories of his late mother, Susannah. The party that night, Belly gets drunk and nearly kisses Conrad. The next day, Belly’s mother arrives and fights with her, but eventually agrees to help save the house on the condition that Conrad goes back to school and passes his finals.
Conrad, Belly, and Jeremiah were all together once more, with Conrad having completed his exams. Conrad was overjoyed and picked Belly up in a spin, but the moment was short-lived as Jeremiah became jealous. As Conrad went to take his last test, Jeremiah and Belly went to wait in the car. Belly and Jeremiah shared a kiss, and Conrad saw them upon returning. Conrad told Belly to give back the necklace he had bought for her and return to Jeremiah, as he never truly wanted her. Heartbroken, Belly complied and they headed back home, but got stuck in traffic.
They spent the night in a motel, and Conrad said he didn’t mean what he said but the next morning things were the same. Belly and Conrad said their goodbyes and she left with Jeremiah, holding hands. In the epilogue, Belly is seen running away from an unspecified wedding.