There are many changes between the first book in Jenny Han’s YA novel “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and its Prime Video adaptation. While some exist to create a more gripping plot for television, others are meant to create more well-rounded, modern characters.
Fans of the book series might notice that, while Jeremiah’s sexuality is never mentioned in the novels, he is queer in the adaptation. During Episode 2, he walks Belly around the country club and points out each guy and girl he’s kissed.
“I have to attribute this to Jenny Han because this is a wonderful example of bringing her book and her characters into today’s world,” Gavin Casalegno told TheWrap of the change to his character. “I think it was so important to update that just to really relate to people and to also bring more diversity into the show. I love who Jeremiah is. He’s still figuring himself out and loving everybody, and that’s something that I admire about him.”
Season 1 of the series follows Belly (Lola Tung), a 16-year-old who has been in love with the son of her mother’s best friend, Conrad (Christopher Briney), for as long as she can remember. But this year, returning to Cousins Beach feels different, especially when she starts to realize she might have feelings for his brother, Jeremiah.
While the main details of the series remain the same, Han told TheWrap that she asked herself: “If I was telling [the story] for the first time, how would I tell it?” Jeremiah’s sexuality was ultimately one of several changes she landed on.
“To me it felt very natural. It was not like a hard decision to make because I think that Jeremiah, I really could see that for him even in the early 2000s,” she said. “But I think nowadays, young people are a lot more free with sexuality as a spectrum. There’s less of this binary.”
She added that she imaged Jeremiah was in the throes of a personal “exploration”: “It felt like this kid is somebody who is really at ease with himself. I think he is comfortable in his own skin.”
“The Summer I Turned Pretty” is streaming now on Prime Video.