21 major differences between The Summer I Turned Pretty show and the book
15 July 2022, 21:08 | Updated: 18 July 2022, 15:51
The Summer I Turned Pretty is a loyal adaptation of the book it's based on but there are several key differences.
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So you've watched The Summer I Turned Pretty but have you read the original book and did you pick up on the differences?
There is no denying that The Summer I Turned Pretty is the must-watch show of the summer. An iconic protagonist? Check. Multiple hot love interests? Check. An 11/10 soundtrack with not one, not two, but five Taylor Swift songs? Check. If that weren't enough, it's also based on a beloved trilogy of books by To All the Boys I've Loved Before author Jenny Han.
Jenny Han actually works as a showrunner on The Summer I Turned Pretty so it does stay pretty loyal to the source material. That being said, there are a few key differences. With that in mind, here are 21 ways the series is different to the book.
1) The book is just from Belly's perspective
The Summer I Turned Pretty novel is told completely from Belly's perspective. In other words, all the scenes that take place without Belly in the show, don't appear in the book. The series essentially fleshes out all the other characters and gives us some insight into how they are feeling as well as Belly.
2) The debutante ball isn't even in the book
Yeah. The pivotal debutante ball that season 1 revolves around doesn't feature in the book at all. Talking to The Wrap about her decision to add it to the show, Jenny Han said: "The Deb Ball was a chance to really bring a rite of passage like a ceremonial rite of passage of growing up to life — to really see that visualized."
She added: "I think different cultures have many different ways of marking that moment of between, like, girlhood and adulthood... And that's what Deb Ball is, you're coming out and being seen as an adult."
3) Taylor only appears in flashbacks in the book
Taylor and Belly may be besties in the series but, in the book, it's implied that they've fallen out and she's only referenced in flashbacks where she flirts with Conrad despite knowing how Belly feels about him. While Taylor and Belly do butt heads in the series, they resolve their issues and remain besties.
4) Jeremiah hates Taylor in the book
On that note, Jeremiah makes pretty clear that he doesn't care for Belly in the books and they often argue in the flashbacks. By contrast in the show, Taylor is Jeremiah's number one cheerleader and she actually roots for Belly to end up with him instead of Conrad.
5) Jeremiah isn't queer in the book
Speaking of Jeremiah, he is written as straight in the book. Meanwhile, in the show, it's made clear that he has had multiple, previous male love interests and he even makes out with a guy on the show.
Chatting about Jeremiah's sexuality to TV Line, Jenny said: "I think perhaps if I was writing the novel today, I may have made that choice because I think that he's always been a character, to me, that is really at ease with himself, really comfortable in his own skin, and open-minded, and open to exploration."
Jenny then ended by saying: "I do think that's more reflective of today and young people today and the way they view sexuality being much more of a spectrum."
6) Belly has more female friends in the show
The book is so focused on Belly's relationships with Conrad and Jeremiah that there isn't as much scope for her friendships with girls. By contrast, the show puts her friendship with Taylor front and centre. On top of that, from Nicole to Shayla, Belly also grows close with many of the girls she meets at the country club.
7) There is much less drinking in the book
As a whole, the book is aimed at a younger audience than the series. It also came out in 2009 so it's much tamer when it comes to drinking and even partying. Scenes like Belly getting drunk on cocktails are completely unique to the show.
8) There is much less kissing in the book
On that note, the book is also much more PG when it comes to kissing. Belly kisses Jeremiah in a flashback in the book but it's during a game, and the steamy pool kiss doesn't even happen. Meanwhile, she makes out with Cam much sooner and much more in the series than in the book.
9) Conrad doesn't have a panic attack in the book
Like we said before, the book is told from Belly's perspective so we see Conrad being moody to her but we're not given any insight as to why until the end of the book when he opens up to her. The series peels back the curtain on Conrad a little bit by showing his struggles with his mental health first-hand.
10) Laurel isn't an author in the book
Belly's mum Laurel is given a huge character development in the series. As opposed to just being a side character in Belly's life, we see her struggles as an author. We also get more insight into her friendship with Susannah and it's really beautiful to watch unfold.
11) Cleeveland didn't feature in the book
Believe it or not, author Cleeveland Castillo was invented purely for the series. In other words, that legendary hook-up scene between Cleeveland and Laurel is not part of the books and Laurel's love life isn't really explored.
12) Cam breaks up with Belly in the book
In the book, Cam breaks up with Belly because he can see that she's in love with someone else. By contrast, in the series, Belly actually decides to break up with Cam after becoming aware of how she feels about Conrad and realising that it's unfair to string Cam along. Growth! We love to see it.
13) Steven leaves Cousins in the book
Steven does appear in the book but he heads off to tour colleges shortly after arriving in Cousins and there's no love story or Country Club job for him. Essentially, all of the iconic Steven and Shayla moments in the series are completely new. Shayla was actually created specifically for the show.
14) Belly doesn't find Conrad's necklace in the book
So Belly finding the necklace in the series is pretty key to her realising that her love for Conrad is requited. However, it isn't until the second book that Belly finds it. In other words, it takes a lot longer for Belly to actually clock exactly how Conrad feels about her.
15) Belly and Conrad don't get together in the book
On that note, we don't get the romantic scene on the beach in The Summer I Turned Pretty book. Belly may realise that she wants to be with Conrad but they never act on it. The whole scene with Conrad saying: "I do want you" and then kissing Belly on the beach as 'This Love (Taylor's Version)' plays is a TV exclusive.
16) Conrad doesn't smoke pot in the book
Conrad does smoke in the books but it's just cigarettes. The show changes it up with Conrad occasionally smoking weed and getting high. Belly, of course, teases him for it because Conrad used to judge stoners.
17) Susannah doesn't paint the boys in the book
Susannah painting the boys is a touching addition to the series. And it's made even more touching when you realise that this could be her last summer with her children.
18) The show is more diverse than the book
Belly's race is never explicitly addressed in the books and the original covers portrayed Belly as white. By contrast, Belly is mixed-race in the series. Her mother is Korean and her dad is white. Also, Nicole is described as "blonde" in the book but she is played by Summer Madison, a Black actress, in the show and there are many more characters of colour.
Discussing the diversity in the show with Cinema Blend, Jenny said: "When I was approaching the adaptation, I wanted to really reflect the moment that we're living in. And I think the diversity of characters is a piece of that, so it felt like a really great opportunity to showcase different kinds of talent."
She added: "We get to have an Asian American family on the show. And we also have a new character Cleveland, who is Filipino. So it's really exciting I think. And I think it feels really natural to the show, to the characters and the story."
19) The show explores racism
As well as casting people of colour in the show, The Summer I Turned Pretty actually explores racism that the characters of colour would experience in Cousins. Nicole calls out the country club for pretending to be "woke" and Steven experiences racism when country club members insult him with Asian stereotypes while he's working there.
20) Jenny Han actually cameos in the show
Naturally, it would be a bit odd for Jenny to write herself in her own book as a character but like many iconic authors before her she gets a cameo in her on-screen adaptation. During the ball, Jenny can be spotted take a flute from the champagne tower. Pretty legendary, if you ask me.
21) Susannah doesn't change her mind in the book
Like the series, Susannah has cancer in the book and she's adamant about not getting treatment. The show leaves her story on a more hopeful note though. Instead of preparing for her death, the boys persuade her to fight and get treatment, and Laurel agrees to support her every step of the way. Let's pray season 2 makes some changes to the books as well.
Get to know The Summer I Turned Pretty cast here:
- Lola Tung: 13 facts about the Summer I Turned Pretty actress you need to know
- Christopher Briney: 16 facts about the Summer I Turned Pretty actor you need to know
- Gavin Casalegno: 17 facts about The Summer I Turned Pretty actor you need to know