The Significance Of *This* Book Reference In ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’


The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Warning: Spoilers for The Summer I Turned Pretty book series and Season 2 follow.

For those of you who have been watching (and rewatching) the recent episodes of The Summer I Turned Pretty, you may have noticed that of all the books that Belly could’ve been reading in the first episode of Season 2, she was reading The Hunger Games novel. Not only was she reading it, but she was reading it in French because, as she said, she has read the novel so many times that she has practically memorized it. This activated my 12th-grade English analytical skills because I’ve read the TSITP trilogy repeatedly, and I don’t remember a single mention of The Hunger Games series. This made me wonder, why would a whole scene be dedicated to Belly’s love of The Hunger Games?

The immediate connections between the two book series are that they’re both trilogies within the young adult fiction genre and feature a teenage female lead. They also both include love triangles that develop throughout their respective novels. An important aspect of the love triangles, which highlights the brilliant writing abilities of both authors, is that both love triangles feel authentic as there isn’t one love interest that is clearly better than the other. While as the stories develop it’s clear that both Katniss and Belly love one love interest more than the other, readers can still connect with the love interests they prefer because all the fictional characters involved are developed in a way that they have their share of strengths and flaws, as any person does.

The Hunger Games stands out, both in general and in the TSITP series, because Suzanne Collins is such an incredible writer in her balancing of the romantic storyline with the main plot in a realistic way that reflects Katniss’ development. The Hunger Games is one of the only stories that I’ve ever read that genuinely focuses on the female lead and her story so that even though we have our preferences for who she ends up with, the love triangle isn’t the focus of the story. She could’ve ended up by herself and it still would’ve been an amazing story. I read The Hunger Games series for the first time this summer (I know, I’m late to the party), and I’m definitely “Team Katniss.”

In contrast, when the phrase “Team Belly” was used in TSITP press interviews for Season 1 when cast members were asked whether they were “Team Conrad” or “Team Jeremiah,” I originally thought it didn’t make sense. The main aspect of the story had been Belly’s romantic relationships, and, in the books, even though Belly had loved Jeremiah, I felt like Jenny Han made it clear that “Team Belly” and “Team Conrad” were the same as Belly’s love for Conrad was constant throughout. However, after reading The Hunger Games this summer and joining “Team Katniss,” I finally understood why “Team Belly” wasn’t only a valid team, but the one I now find myself on.

The reference to The Hunger Games seems as though Han is emphasizing that while the TSITP series may be rooted in romance, the story showcases Belly’s interests and development as well, as she not only navigates love but also grief and change. This effectively resonates with viewers and readers in a similar manner that Katniss’ journey is the main focus in the novels. After Season 1 of TSITP premiered, I saw how fans from both “Team Conrad” and “Team Jeremiah” can be extremely negative towards each other, and I’ve seen many people strongly criticize Belly. This is why I think putting The Hunger Games in the show could’ve been significant because there’s a clear connection between Belly and Katniss having their individual stories and interests separate from love triangles, and the eventual choice they make for their final love interest was right for them. Additionally, Belly and Katniss both face huge changes in their lives and issues that forced them to make critical choices.

Belly and Katniss are flawed people, just like everyone else, and labeling them in a derogatory way takes away from the fact that in reality, we don’t always make the best choices. There’s a clear difference between the two stories, as TSITP is mainly rooted in romance. Still, The Hunger Games is an excellent series to reference to highlight the importance of enjoying the entire story and focusing on Belly’s journey and experience, rather than simply picking a team.

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