5 Poetry Collections For Fans of The Summer I Turned Pretty
The show The Summer I Turned Pretty, based on the best-selling novels by Jenny Han, has captured the hearts of millions of fans, led to the Fleetwood Mac classic “Silver Springs” trending on TikTok, and inspired one of the most iconic love triangle debates in recent pop culture history. It’s easy to see why the show has become one of the most streamed: It evokes quintessential coming-of-age emotions and leans into aesthetic summer nostalgia. However, behind the beachy romance, The Summer I Turned Pretty also leans into themes like grief, heartbreak, and the power of chosen family. These five poetry collections have a similar sense of place, strong imagery, and the emotional highs and lows that fans of Belly’s adventures will crave.
As its title suggests, summer is the crucial backdrop and inspiration for The Summer I Turned Pretty. From its setting—a beloved, storied family beach house—to its depiction of fleeting romances and walks on the boardwalk, the show couldn’t unfold in any other season. As Belly experiences first love and heartbreak, the escapism and ephemerality of summer allow viewers to see themselves in her experiences. The anthology A Poem for Every Summer Day, which contains poetry from Sylvia Plath and Kate Tempest, among other writers, reflects these themes and universal emotions.
2. The Undying by Anne Boyer
Though The Summer I Turned Pretty packs plenty of flirty romance and vacation vibes, the show also contends with the more serious elements of growing up—like experiencing loss and grief for the first time. Many aspects of the plot and thematic arc hinge on Susannah, a family friend of Belly and owner of the beach house, having cancer. Viewers get a realistic, painful glimpse into how that impacts other relationships in the show, as well as decisions about end-of-life planning and care. These honest discussions of difficult topics feel almost poetic in their vulnerability and confrontation, which can be similarly seen in Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Boyer’s hybrid book The Undying, where she chronicles her cancer diagnosis and societal treatment of illness.
3. Summer Snow by Robert Hass
Former Poet Laureate Robert Hass is known for his ability to connect natural imagery with poignant human emotion. Summer Snow takes place on beaches, lakesides, and wildflower valleys, which will remind readers of the scenic, breathtaking shots in The Summer I Turned Pretty. In the midst of these breathtaking settings, Hass closely examines the details of ordinary, daily life, finding inspiration in dinner convos with friends and sleepy walks in the morning. Like The Summer I Turned Pretty, the collection is equally informed by the living and the presence of those who the speaker has lost.
4. Swiftly by Rachel Madeline
The Summer I Turned Pretty author Jenny Han is a major Swiftie, a fun fact that comes across in the show through its singularly incredible soundtrack. Taylor Swift fans will remember that Swift originally re-released “This Love (Taylor’s Version)” ahead of the show’s first season. Key moments in the show are also set to “Delicate,” “Invisible String,” “Snow On the Beach,” and “Last Kiss.” These emotive, diaristic songs reflect Belly’s adolescence and provided a similar function for poet Rachel Madeline. In Swiftly, Madeline embraces Swift’s lyrics as a jumping-off point for her own personal expression.
5. The Moonflower Monologues by Tess Guinery
Amidst the darker undertones of season two of The Summer I Turned Pretty, fan-favorite scenes show the characters racing go-karts, riding roller coasters, and winning carnival prizes. These moments relate to one of the season’s deepest, most revelatory themes—the power of rediscovering joy and whimsy in the face of sadness and anger. Poet and designer Tess Guinery has dedicated her life and career to the importance of art and creativity, with a focus on the play and adventure it brings. The Moonflower Monologues shows Guinery bringing this outlook to painful moments in her life, acknowledging them with grace and potential for growth.
Want more TV-related recs? Check out our poetry pics for fans of Wednesday on Netflix.