Two months before Jenny Han’s young adult novel “The Summer I Turned Pretty” hit bookshelves in 2009, the film adaptation of “The Hunger Games” went into development — generating almost $700 million at the global box office three years later.

But Han doesn’t want to write another “Hunger Games” or “Divergent” or even “Twilight,” despite the massive success of all three.

“You didn’t often see a trilogy that was a realistic, contemporary story. Either it was dystopian or fantasy, like vampires. Really life-or-death stakes,” Han, who also wrote the bestselling trilogy “To All The Boys,” told the Daily News.

“I like to tell stories that feel both real but also ... hopeful and warmhearted.”

Han’s young adult novels, typically aimed at readers between 12 and 18, don’t have dragons or vampires. But they have the same teenage problems of love, loss and growth.

The TV adaptation of “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” which premiered last Friday on Prime Video, came at a good time for Han after stops and starts. Now, she gets to make her own show about teenage love and summers that exist out of time and reality.

Like “To All The Boys,” the teens of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” are consumed by their lives. Every furtive glance across the beach is the most important eye contact in the world. Every brush of shoulders at the ice cream parlor is the most electric touch in history. For the history of young adult content, those feelings have been dismissed as childish and inconsequential. YA novels, shows and movies are for silly girls.

Not for Han.

“Everything that they’re feeling is just as important and relevant as something an adult person is feeling. It’s just all in the context on the scale of experience,” she told The News.

“When you’re in high school, being dumped or losing your best friend really is high stakes; that’s how big your world is in that moment. As an adult, going through a divorce or being fired at work, those are the same emotions. One isn’t more relevant than the other one. It’s just about the scope of a person’s life and how much bigger things get as you get older.”

For Han, there’s no insult in her work being categorized as a beach read. She wants you to sit on a deck chair in a big comfy T-shirt with a pizza and sink into her fictional world. There doesn’t need to be a vampire who sparkles in the sun and creeps through your bedroom window at night. There doesn’t need to be a death match in which teens kill or get killed.

Han said should people ask why one girl’s life justifies three books, she’d answer: “We should value those stories. We should value one girl’s life at a moment in time where she’s just growing up.”

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Tribune Wire

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