published: 11th May 2021
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?
Galley provided by publisher
Cool for the Summer is a sweet enough romance, centering on Lara, who has a summer fling with a girl, then returns to school to find that her longtime crush is interested in her. Like I said, it’s a sweet enough read — I didn’t actively dislike reading it, but neither did I really like it.
I think the major problem I had was that I never really worked out why I was supposed to be rooting for either of the relationships. Sure, the flashbacks were good to establish that Lara and Jasmine had had a relationship, but there didn’t ever feel like there was much more there than something maybe beginning. There wasn’t really the emotion to convince me that they could have gone somewhere.
And then there was Chase.
Maybe it’s me here but nothing about Chase made him seem remotely like a viable love interest. Okay so he was nice enough, but he didn’t notice Lara at all until she had a whole makeover over the summer and then he decided she was worth it. And that kind of shallowness stuck with me throughout their attempts at dating.
But I think maybe that shallowness was kind of indicative of the book as a whole. In trying to be a fun, summery romcom, it sort of lost a little bit in its characterisation. Not so much with Lara herself, but definitely with the side characters, none of whom felt particularly distinct.
Which then became a problem, because how am I supposed to enjoy a romance, enjoy the relationships, if I don’t have a proper sense of who the characters are. That wasn’t just a problem with respect to the romance, but also the friendships. I mean, I can tell you maybe one or two things about each of Lara’s friends — Gigi is obsessed with her boyfriend, Kiki runs a mystery-solving podcast, Shannon is a bitch — and really, not much else.
Which, I guess, is why this book as a whole just fell a little flat to me.