Hi everyone, I hope you’re all doing well! Today I’m back again with another review! This is a book that I was highly anticipating, but after seeing some of my friends give it some lower ratings, I was a bit hesitant to pick it up. I’m glad I ultimately decided to give it a go, though, as I ended up really enjoying it!
Title: Cool for the Summer
Author: Dahlia Adler
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT+, Young Adult
Synopsis: 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?
When I first heard about this book way back in 2020, I was so excited to pick it up – it was pitched as a Grease retelling with a bisexual love triangle, and if that alone doesn’t sound amazing to you, I don’t know what to tell you! Though it is a fairly loose Grease retelling, I still had so much fun reading this fresh, summery novel! Cool for the Summer follows Lara who has had a one-sided love for the popular football player at her school, Chase Harding, for years. But one summer changes everything, when she has to stay with her mum’s boss and his beautiful, intriguing daughter, Jasmine. The two spend a fun-filled, romantic summer together – and that’s all Lara thinks it is, one summer – that is until Jasmine shows up unannounced at her school and Lara must deal with the confusing feelings she’s been having ever since.
Though I am not an own-voices reviewer for bisexual rep, I really enjoyed the representation that we got in here, particularly to do with questioning your sexuality. Jasmine is the first girl Lara has kissed, and the only one she’s had some sort of feelings for, and we get to see her deal with her sexuality – questioning if she’s bi, or if she’s straight, or if Jasmine is some sort of exception. And so many of the scenes in which we see her introspectively questioning herself felt so, so realistic and similar to some of my own experiences. Both Lara and Jasmine are also Jewish, and I loved the little sprinklings of their Jewish culture throughout – the food especially sounded so, so delicious!
As for the characters, I really enjoyed them all. This is a fairly short book (only slightly longer than what I’d consider a novella), but every character felt really fleshed out and three-dimensional. Lara really comes into her own in the book after being stuck in her best friends’ shadows for so long which was so lovely to see, and really reminded me of some of the topics tackled in Kelly Quindlen’s Late to the Party. She also works at a coffee-shop-slash-bookshop and loves to write and read romance novels, and honestly – dream job! Jasmine was so wonderful – she was so thoughtful and understanding of other people and their boundaries and I wish we’d gotten to see her interact with Lara more in the ‘now’ sections of the book, because the yearning between the two of them would have been top tier! Even Chase, the almost stereotypical football player character, was so sweet and caring, and I found myself really enjoying his character. He was patient and kind and really cared about Lara’s boundaries. This is my official petition to turn all queer love triangle stories into polyamorous relationships, because I always seem to just want them all to be together!! Even Lara’s trio of best friends felt so fleshed out and I would have loved to see more of them (a companion novel all about Kiki please!!).
The overall vibes of this novel really are perfect for a summer beach read that you devour in one sitting. It’s another example of that almost nostalgic high school kind of book that I absolutely adore, and I think the length of the book really worked well as it felt like it encompassed so much more than its 272 pages – not once did I feel like the story dragged. I did dock half a star for a couple of reasons, that many other reviewers have also pointed out. First being the representation among side characters – there’s one bit where Lara is being introduced to Jasmine’s friends and their races, ethnicities and sexualities are all kinda labelled in a way that felt like Adler was trying to fit as many in as possible to get representation points. They were basically all listed out and it felt really inorganic. I’m absolutely all here for wonderful and diverse representation, but this felt a bit disingenuous. There was also a bit of a throwaway comment about a nonbinary character, that I can tell wasn’t done with any ill intent, but that just felt a bit strange and the book could have completely done without it.
Regardless, I had such a fun time reading this, and I wish we could have gotten a teeny epilogue about where all the characters are maybe a couple of months after the book ended, but that’s just because I loved all the characters so much! This is the perfect sweet sapphic read for summer that should be right at the top of your TBR list!