Saturday 28 August 2021

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Review: Cool For the Summer by Dahlia Adler

Cool For the Summer by Dahlia Adler

Cool For the Summer by Dahlia Adler

Published: 11th May 2021 | Publisher: Wednesday Books | Source: Bought
Dahlia Adler’s Website

Dahlia Adler's Cool for the Summer is a story of self-discovery and new love. It's about the things we want and the things we need. And it's about the people who will let us be who we are.

Lara's had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He's tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he's talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe...flirting, even? No, wait, he's definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara's wanted out of life.

Except she's haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.

Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she's finally got the guy, why can't she stop thinking about the girl?
From The StoryGraph

I've wanted to read Cool For the Summer by Dahlia Adler since I first heard about. The Grease vibes of a summer romance that collides with normal life at school, alongside a girl discovering her (possible) bisexuality sound cute and fun, and right up my street. And I really enjoyed it!

When Lara's mum has to work with her boss, Declan, at his summer house during the summer break, Lara has to go with her. There she meets Jasmine, Declan's daughter; cool, confident, sure of herself. And before she knows it, things are happening between them. But when Lara gets back home, the summer behind her, Chase, who she has been infatuated with for years is suddenly showing her attention. It's all she's ever wanted - but then Jasmine walks into the school, putting Lara's life into tailspin.

A sweet, light romance, Cool For the Summer is told in two timelines; Then, during Lara's summer with Jasmine, and Now, where Chase has finally noticed her, and Jasmine has started at her school. It's an easy read, and one I read eagerly, wanting to see Lara and Jasmine's relationship developed, and to see where things would go back at school with Chase and Lara.

I loved how it's not just a simple, "Oh, I like a boy and a girl, what to do?" story. Lara has never been interested in girls before. Never. So she was taken completely by surprise when things started happening with Jasmine. Even when it happened; suddenly they were kissing out of nowhere, and then she didn't want to stop kissing her. Being alone with Jasmine was all she could think about. But they never talked about it; it always just happened. They would be hanging out as friends - with Jasmine's friends some of the time, on their own the rest - and things were normal. Until, at some point when they were alone, they would be kissing. And because they never talk about it, and because Lara has never been interested in girls before, she thinks it's just a summer thing. Experimentation. Fun during the summer, but then back to normal.

But then Jasmine is at Lara's school, and everything has turned upside down. Jasmine seems not to want to know Lara, which obviously means Jasmine wants to pretend the summer never happened. Which is fine with Lara, because now she has Chase, finally. Except Lara can't stop thinking about Jasmine. She's confused, and she's hurt and angry about Jasmine giving her the cold shoulder, and how, when Lara's best friend Shannon brings Jasmine into their group of friends, she's suddenly being bitchy. If Jasmine would just be normal, life could be normal, and she could happily be with Chase like she's always wanted. But as things stand, when she's with Chase, more often than not, she's thinking about Jasmine.

I loved how diverse Cool For the Summer is! Both Lara and Jasmine are Jewish - though Lara and her mum don't particularly practice, nor are affilitaed. But when Lara and Jasmine go to visit Jasmine's mum one weekend, they have a Shabbat dinner. Jasmine is half Syrian, and Lara is half Russian. Amongst Jasmine's friends, Keisha and Carter are black, Brea is possibilt Latina (Lara assumes), and Derek is East Asian. Derek is in a relationship with Jack, and Keisha is asexual. Lara's friend Kiki is Japanese-American, and her lab partner Jamie is bisexual, and is in a relationship with Taylor who is non-binary. But it doesn't feel like box ticking, or shoehorned diversity; these are just the people that the girls know.

As I've said, Cool For the Summer is a really cute story, but I have to say, I definitely wanted more. At 255 pages, it's a fairly short novel, and when you consider that's split into two timelines, not a huge amount of time is spent in either in the great scheme of things. We get glimpses of moments during summer, and while I feel we got to know Jasmine pretty well, I don't think we really got to see their relationship develop and build. We got told about things that happened off page, and I think the story could have done with being longer, with us getting to see more of these moments. Honestly, I didn't really feel things between Lara and Jasmine. At the same time, I feel like Chase got the short end of the stick, because I don't think we got to know him at all. Obviously, we don't see Lara's feelings for him develop because it's been three years, but we're told so much about why he's so great rather than see it, and the two have very little page time together. He felt quite two-dimensional to me, and I kind of felt sorry for him. He wasn't given enough page time, I don't think, and he felt kind of like a generic nice guy. I almost wish there was a third timeline, from before everything else, to see Lara be really into him without Jasmine confusing things, and see him be this awesome guy that Lara has been into for so long.

But overall, Cool For the Summer is a really cute, quick, light, easy romance story that's great for a little escapism. I really enjoyed it, and would highly recommend it! A perfect beach read!

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