Also known as: 忽而今夏 (Hu Er Jin Xia); The Words of Love
Warning: There may be some spoilers below!
HE LUO (Bu Guan Jin)
A cheerful, optimistic high school student who loves reading manga and eating snacks, but is a bit of a slacker. After getting wrongfully accused of being a dumb troublemaker by her high school principal, she makes a bet that she’ll get into Huaqing, the top college. She’s not a natural student, but she works hard, which attracts Zhang Yuan’s attention. She eventually achieves her goal of getting into Huaqing University, then goes to America for graduate school.
ZHANG YUAN (Bai Yu)
An effortlessly brilliant student who can seem a bit arrogant. He dismisses He Luo at first, but she wins him over with her determination and personality and he eventually agrees to tutor her and becomes her biggest supporter. He doesn’t get into Huaqing and instead goes to Haicheng University, where he starts developing video games and drops out to run his own start-up, which fails. He eventually becomes an executive at a gaming company and gains recognition for his talent as a game developer.
LI YUN WEI (Zhang Shu Wei)
One of He Luo’s best friends. She’s smart and responsible, but devoted to her grandmother, who is her only living family member. She gets hired by Chang Feng as a tutor, and they eventually start a relationship and later get married. She chooses to stay in Haicheng for college to take her of her grandmother, despite getting a gaokao score high enough to go to school elsewhere.
TIAN XIN (Hou Qingzizi)
Another one of He Luo’s best friends. She dreams of becoming an actress one day, which eventually becomes a reality after she goes to drama school in Beijing. She’s aware of Cheng Jie’s crush on her, but constantly friend-zones him because she considers him her best male friend and doesn’t want to lose that.
ZHAO CHENG JIE (Fang Wen Qiang)
He Luo’s best male friend. He has a long-running crush on Tian Xin and follows her to Beijing. He eventually becomes a successful cinematographer and marries a different woman.
CHANG FENG (Liu Lin)
Initially the class troublemaker, Chang Feng’s rough edges get smoothed out after he starts dating Yun Wei. He misses the gaokao in order to take care of her grandmother and never goes to college, instead embarking on some questionable business ideas. After accidentally sabotaging Zhang Yuan’s start-up, he disappears. Zhang Yuan finds him a few years later and convinces him to return to Beijing. He reunites with Yun Wei and they eventually get married.
FENG XIAO (Lu Peng)
He Luo’s college classmate who takes an interest in her. He respects her relationship with Zhang Yuan and does everything he can to support her. After she breaks up with Zhang Yuan, he follows her to America and eventually convinces her to start dating. But his insecurity about their relationship and jealousy over Zhang Yuan eventually dooms their romance.
ZHANG WEI RUI (Yang Yue)
Zhang Yuan’s college friend, co-class president, and eventual business partner. She clearly likes Zhang Yuan but never acts on her feelings, instead choosing to look out for him and support him. She eventually encourages him to chase after He Luo, giving up on her own hopes of having a relationship with him.
He Luo and Zhang Yuan meet as classmates in high school after Zhang Yuan transfers into her class. He is immediately recognized as a genius, and already has connections to Chang Feng, a troublemaker from a different class, who recognizes him as his shifu.
He Luo is motivated to become a good student after her principal tells her that she will amount to nothing. She works hard to get into Huaqing, the top college, which attracts Zhang Yuan’s attention. He agrees to tutor her. Over the years and tutoring sessions, they become closer, forming a solid group of friends with Li Yun Wei, Tian Xin, Zhao Cheng Jie, and Chang Feng.
Everything changes after the gaokao. Yun Wei chooses to stay in Haicheng to take care of her grandmother. Chang Feng stays behind with her, since he didn’t take the gaokao or get into college. Meanwhile, He Luo gets into Huaqing and Tian Xin gets into drama school in Beijing. Cheng Jie didn’t get into any of the colleges he wanted, and has to figure things out. Zhang Yuan didn’t get into Huaqing, but doesn’t tell anyone. When He Luo finds out, she feels betrayed and they fight. She doesn’t want to go to Huaqing without him, but he tells her not to throw away her dreams for him. They promise to stay together forever and make the next four years work long distance.
He Luo and Zhang Yuan chat regularly, but long distance is difficult when they each have their own lives on campus. He Luo befriends a guy named Feng Xiao, who clearly has an interest in her, while Zhang Yuan becomes friends with Zhang Wei Rui, who is clearly interested in him. Cheng Jie goes to Beijing in an attempt to pursue Tian Xin, but she rejects his advances, at times harshly, and is focused on her own acting career.
Things are good for a while, but conflicts arise when He Luo sees how close Wei Rui and Zhang Yuan are and gets jealous. They talk things out and make amends, then make plans for the future together. They decide that Zhang Yuan will go to grad school at Huaqing so they can finally be together. He Luo gets excited and starts spending all her time on Zhang Yuan: either researching or copying notes on grad school exams for him, or saving money for a gift for him. Meanwhile, Zhang Yuan struggles to decide whether he wants to go to grad school or not. After a video game he made goes viral, he gets approached by Fu Peng, a graduate student, with a business proposal.
He Luo finds out that Zhang Yuan hasn’t been taking the grad school idea seriously and they argue again. Zhang Yuan tries to make it up to her by buying her a promise ring. But the time and distance start to take their toll on He Luo.
Fu Peng is persistent in trying to make Zhang Yuan a business partner and enlists Wei Rui to help convince him. Zhang Yuan agrees to go into business with them after finding out that he’ll be able to spend a lot of time in Beijing while pitching to investors. He visits He Luo, but lies to her about why he’s there. She finds out the truth and they fight again, but then forgives him after seeing an inspirational video of him pitching his game to investors.
Zhang Yuan signs a contract for his game and buys a condo for He Luo. But it turns out he was only able to seal the deal by selling the rights to the game, something he hadn’t told Fu Peng or Wei Rui. When Fu Peng finds out, he breaks all ties with Zhang Yuan.
Zhang Yuan decides to drop out of school in order to focus on building another game from scratch. He visits He Luo and admits to dropping out. The news makes her irate and she leaves him, for real this time.
After the break-up, He Luo goes out with Tian Xin and gets drunk. They run into Feng Xiao, who offers to take He Luo home. He tries to hold her hand, but she quickly pulls away. Afterward, she avoids him.
He Luo and Zhang Yuan continue to ignore each other when they go home for the summer. At the end of the summer, He Luo is on the train back to Beijing when Zhang Yuan surprises her at an intermediate stop. They make up and He Luo re-accepts the promise ring.
Zhang Yuan meets with various investors to try to get additional funding. A company called Leyi shows interest, but wants to purchase the rights. He refuses to sell this time, but the CEO goes behind his back, takes advantage of Chang Feng, and steals the game. Leyi makes a press release about the game, and Zhang Yuan loses all his initial investors. He goes into debt in order to pay them back. Chang Feng realizes that the leak is likely his fault and disappears. No one is able to find him, not even Yun Wei.
He Luo calls Zhang Yuan to talk about the future, but he now has no money, no company, and no future. He breaks up with her, but doesn’t tell her why.
He Luo decides to go to America for graduate school after getting accepted by the California Institute of Technology (not the real CalTech — this one is in LA). She goes back to Haicheng before leaving for the States, determined to find Zhang Yuan. She’s unable to find Zhang Yuan and finally reaches out to Wei Rui.
Wei Rui convinces him to meet with He Luo. He tells He Luo the truth about his company and life falling apart. She’s willing to throw her future away and stay by his side, but he says they should stay broken up. She returns the promise ring.
A year later, He Luo reconnects with Feng Xiao in America after he transfers to the same school as her. Meanwhile, Zhang Yuan has risen fast within the ranks of a gaming company called Loong Entertainment and reconnects with Wei Rui, who joins his company.
Zhang Yuan and He Luo start to reconnect a bit when he sends her an email after finding out that Summer Records is being made into a movie. He gets an opportunity to go to America for business, and jumps at the chance, but is disappointed when his trip gets postponed because of the avian flu outbreak.
Feng Xiao gets an opportunity to take his friendship with He Luo to the next level after he saves her from carbon monoxide poisoning. After some time, she agrees to start dating. Zhang Yuan works up the courage to call her, only to find out that she has a boyfriend.
He Luo returns to China for a work trip, nervous about potentially seeing Zhang Yuan again, but Feng Xiao surprises her by going back with her. Zhang Yuan tries to surprise He Luo at the airport with flowers, but sees her with Feng Xiao and leaves. They awkwardly run into each other at a restaurant near the airport.
He Luo brings Feng Xiao home to meet her mom. While there, Zhang Yuan calls her, wanting to talk. She avoids him, so Zhang Yuan decides to go to Haicheng.
While in Haicheng, Zhang Yuan receives news that Chang Feng has finally been located in Shenzhen after years of searching. He tells Yun Wei the news and runs into He Luo. They hang out for a day, but don’t talk about anything substantial.
He Luo receives an offer from her professor to extend her stay in Beijing for a few months. She accepts. Zhang Yuan flies to Shenzhen and tracks down Chang Feng, then convinces him to return and apologize to Yun Wei.
Cheng Jie surprises everyone by announcing that he’s getting married.
Zhang Yuan decides to quit his job in order to focus on his dream of turning Summer Records into a video game. It would allow him to travel to America. He convinces He Luo to attend a high school reunion of the six good friends, but it ends up being an awkward double date with them, Chang Feng, and Yun Wei. Tian Xin and Cheng Jie have a heart-to-heart about why they never worked out.
He Luo leaves Beijing without saying anything to Zhang Yuan, but her conflicted feelings about him are obvious to everyone. Wei Rui gives Zhang Yuan her blessing to chase after He Luo and tell her how he feels before she leaves. He rushes to the airport, but He Luo’s flight has already left.
In America, Feng Xiao brings up the topic of marriage with He Luo. He Luo avoids the subject, saying she’s happy the way they are. Later, Feng Xiao tries kissing her and taking things a little further, but she pushes him away. Feng Xiao leaves for a fellowship and they take their relationship long distance for several months.
Zhang Yuan leaves Loong in order to focus on developing Summer Records. He finds out from Yun Wei that Feng Xiao proposed to He Luo.
Yun Wei gets married to Chang Feng, but He Luo isn’t able to make it.
Tian Xin visits He Luo in America. He Luo confides that she doesn’t want to get married yet, and that she feels like she can never give Feng Xiao the love she was able to give Zhang Yuan.
Zhang Yuan flies to America for a business trip and makes a detour to LA to visit He Luo. They’re awkward. He tries to hug her but she pushes him away. Feng Xiao calls, and can tell that something is off.
He Luo sends Zhang Yuan off to the airport, but he purposely misses the bus and instead tries to get her back, showing her the promise ring and telling her the truth about why he broke up with her. She tries not to listen to him. They’re interrupted when He Luo gets a call saying Feng Xiao has been hurt.
He Luo flies to New York to take care of Feng Xiao and stays with him while he recovers. He Luo finds out that Feng Xiao suspected her of cheating on him. They fight. He tries to hold onto her, but she decides to break up with him after realizing that he’ll never be more than a friend.
Some time later (probably a few years), He Luo has graduated and is now a working individual. She goes on a business trip to Beijing to recruit for her company at a career fair. She spots a booth for the game company that has developed the Summer Records video game, and thinks she hears Zhang Yuan’s voice, but searches and doesn’t find him. Defeated, she returns to the empty building. Zhang Yuan is there waiting. They smile at each other.