Buy Cool for the Summer
Regular price: $22.75
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Reviewer: Melissa on May. 04, 2021
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Larissa, aka Lara, has only had eyes for one person throughout her high school years: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, hot, and the football star, but he’s also sweet. And suddenly, he’s talking to her. Maybe even flirting? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the beginning of Lara’s dream come true life. Except she’s haunted by a memory. The memory of a confusing, romantic, and strangely perfect summer that she spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes more confusing and disorienting when Jasmine walks through the front doors of the school where Lara and Chase are chatting in front of the lockers. Lara’s got 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 really has everything she ever wanted, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl? 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, most importantly, it’s about the people who will let us be who we really are.
Ever since I first heard about Cool for the Summer, I knew I had to read it. From the gorgeous, illustrated cover that highlights Lara’s dual obsessions with Chase and Jasmine to the fact that it’s the latest book from the founder of LGBTQ Reads, it became one of—if not the—most anticipated book of the year. And for me, it definitely lived up to my expectations for a cute, romantic, summery rom-com with a Bi+ love triangle, though through it all, I was definitely rooting for one of the love interests over the other. Beyond Lara and Jasmine, there are several other queer, gender diverse, and BIPOC characters in lead and secondary roles, and of course, it has own voices Bi+ and Jewish rep.
Told in dual timelines of “Now” and “Then,” Adler utilizes foreshadowing perfectly in the sections of the current school year to give subtle hints about what Lara, a cultural Jewish teen of Russian descent, remembers happening between her and Jasmine over the past summer. It is a the way that Lara denies thinking about Jasmine, a Jewish teen of Syrian descent, in the present that proves that her female love interest is always on her mind. Moreover, the way she subtly remembers the sexual relationship she had with Jasmine will keep many people reading long into the night until they finally see how their summer together all played out.
But the present day timeline isn’t restricted to the way Lara feels about Jasmine. In fact, a great deal of it speaks to the growing relationship between Lara and Chase as well as Lara’s relationship with the girls in her friend group—Shannon, Gia, and Kiki—after they spent the entire summer apart. Lara’s friends have only ever known her to be obsessing over Chase, so when he finally starts showing Lara attention, they expect that it really would be her dream come true. They initially only recognize the surface level changes she’s made to her hair, but Chase recognizes that Lara is no longer in Shannon’s shadow, that she has a new found confidence, which changes the way he sees her.
Yet, I, personally, didn’t enjoy Lara’s interactions with Chase in the first few chapters. Although Lara had had a crush on him for years, it really seemed like she didn’t know him at all and that her main interest in him was for superficial reasons. While I think that this is often the case of many cis heteronormative relationships, where straight and Bi+ teen girls are typically interested in guys without knowing who they really are, it wasn’t until further into the book that I understood why Lara had obsessed over him for years. Chase is so much more than the typical misogynistic jock; he’s a fully fleshed out, three-dimensional character with a personality that is sweet, kind, and sex positive.
Even though Chase is a worthy love interest, I never rooted him and Lara to be the endgame romance. While he is a great guy, he is more the guy of Lara’s dreams than the person who really has her confused heart. She cares for Jasmine, but their lack of communication about what their secret summer together actually meant leaves Lara feeling like she doesn’t feel like she has any right to expect a relationship with her. Moreover, before Jasmine, she’d never had feelings for any other girl, which makes her feel that her experience doesn’t align with the “born this way” discourse favoured by a lot of people in the LGBTQ2SIA+ community. Through Lara’s confusion about her sexuality, Adler demonstrates something that will be very relatable to many bisexual, pansexual, and other sexually fluid people because even if there are some characters in the book who have always known that they are attracted to more than one gender, it’s just not the case for everyone. Certainly not for Lara. And therefore, it’s sure to make many Bi+ people feel seen in a way that they haven’t experienced before.
Cool for the Summer is sure to make many Bi+ people and those who are questioning their sexuality feel really seen even as it is an entertaining, romantic, and sex positive book.
Buy Cool for the Summer for a great price!