If you couldn't already tell from her books THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY and its newly released sequel IT'S NOT SUMMER WITHOUT YOU (out in stores this week!), Jenny Han has quite a soft spot for summer romances. Below she shares a few of her favorites, gleaned from cult classics like Dirty Dancing to guilty pleasures like The Notebook.
Summer and romance go hand in sweaty hand. School’s out, everybody’s hanging by the pool, anything can happen! I think of summer as a riskier time, a more dangerous time --- it’s a time when people take chances.
Here are just a few of my favorite summer romances in books and movies.
Jack and Angie from SEVENTEENTH SUMMER by Maureen Daly
SEVENTEENTH SUMMER is probably the quintessential YA book and probably the summer romance all other teen romances aspire to. It was written in 1942, and Maureen Daly was still a teenager while she was writing it. That’s probably, at least in part, why the story and the writing feel so real and authentic. Angie is an ordinary everygirl, and her summer is just lazily moving along, until Jack, a boy she knows from school, comes to deliver bread to her house. (In the olden days, they delivered bread to your house! Neat, right?) They start to date, just very casual at first, and then, oh and then. Then, the romance really begins.
Everyone (both the characters and us the readers) knows the way the story, and the summer, will end. Angie will go off to college and they will have to say goodbye. It’s all so perfectly simple and innocent and bittersweet, and that’s what makes it such a lovely story.
Sandy and Danny from Grease
How could I write about summer romance and not mention Sandy and Danny? “Summer Lovin” pretty much encapsulates every summer love story written. The anguish and passion in John Travolta’s voice as he sings, “Summer heat, boy and girl meet, but uh-oh those summer nights,” you just believe him. I like that song so much that I mentioned it in my own summer love story, THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY.
What’s unique about Sandy and Danny’s summer romance is that it pretty much goes straight to the aftermath of it all. All we get of summer is a little montage of the two of them all cozy, drinking lemonade and splashing around. But then, bam! It’s back to school and Danny can’t take the heat of dating a Sandra Dee type because he is just so tuff.
Allie and Noah from THE NOTEBOOK by Nicholas Sparks
I can’t believe I am mentioning anything having to do with Nicholas Sparks --- but I’m sorry, I love Allie and Noah’s love story! I blame Ryan Gosling. Allie and Noah are obviously doomed from the start. The whole good girl meets boy from the wrong side of the tracks thing. Allie is the perfect example of a girl throwing off her good girl persona like it’s an old winter coat --- all because it’s summer, and it’s hot in South Carolina in the summer, and so is Noah/Ryan.
Johnny and Baby from Dirty Dancing
Another guy from the wrong side of the tracks --- but boy, can he dance! Oh, could he dance.
“That was the summer of 1963 --- when everybody called me Baby, and it didn't occur to me to mind. That was before President Kennedy was shot, before the Beatles came, when I couldn't wait to join the Peace Corps, and I thought I'd never find a guy as great as my dad. That was the summer we went to Kellerman's.”
What I love about this is that it validates the idea that summer is a separate time and place from the rest of the year. It is special. You can count memories by summer --- like, that was the summer I broke my arm, or that was the summer I didn’t wear shoes once.
Everyone knows how the summer will end. Johnny will go back to the city and become a house painter like his Uncle Paul. Baby will go to Mount Holyoke and maybe become a writer or a judge. But they’ll both be changed. And that, my friends, is what is so amazing about a summer romance.
-- Jenny Han