Cool For The Summer by Dahlia Adler is a sweet, queer romance. Lara is struggling with her queer identity and the boy and girl in her life aren’t making it any easier.
All quotes are from an advanced audiobook copy and may or may not reflect the published edition.
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?
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.
“Has the love interest ever turned out to be someone other than who you originally planned?”
This was a quick read. There wasn’t particularly much character development, as our reasonings for just about everything remained shallow. I wanted to enjoy this, especially because of the bisexual representation, but there was just something missing. It wasn’t bad, per se, it just wasn’t amazing. I felt indifferent about the entire plotline and detached from the romance interests. While this is “Grease” inspired, the comparisons to “But I’m a Cheerleader!” feel more on par as a descriptor.
“If being bi means always knowing, well, that isn’t me. The only girls on my bedroom walls are my friends, and I’m certainly not into any of them that way. That settles it. I’m straight. Just like I always thought. I wait for the feeling of a weight lifting from my shoulders, but it never comes.”
Jasmine serves as a manic pixie dream girl cliché, but queer. I find this trope endlessly frustrating to read about. Their romance felt shallow and physical, but it had more of a connection. Lara and Chase seem like brother and sister, which was awkward at best. In fact, Lara’s reasoning for first falling in love with Chase was specifically because she was a lonely only child, and he was kind to his sister. That speaks volumes to the attraction Lara feels towards Chase. She also shapes herself repeatedly to whoever she is romantically involved with. From cutting her hair because Jasmine says it’s nice, to going to parties and events she doesn’t seem to enjoy with Chase. It’s all very…boring.
“I don’t even realize we’re falling out of our chairs until we land on the sand, our laughter floating into the summer night amid the crackling flames until our mouths find each other again and there’s no more laughing at all.”
The story isn’t bad, it just felt incredibly shallow. I wanted so much more from this, especially as it’s a contemporary romance. The romance was detached from puppy-high school infatuation to drunken summer lust. There was no in-between here, nothing to pull at your heartstrings and make you want more. The book gets three stars from me as it was a quick read, and I didn’t hate it. I appreciate the attempt at bisexual representation like this. That’s where the positives end.
“Just because you’re telling a good story, doesn’t mean it’s the right story. And I think that it’s really important to tell the right story.”
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.