“Just because you’re telling a good story doesn’t mean it’s the right story. And I think it’s really important to tell the right story.”
For three years of high school, Larissa had extreme heart-eyes for Chase Harding; the sweet, popular, football star any girl would die to date. After returning from summer break, Chase finally seems to notice her, but it’s not Lara’s stylish blonde bob that catches his attention: it’s the newfound confidence she gained over the summer. Enigmatic, too-cool photographer Jasmine is the one Lara spent all summer beside…and, on more than one occasion, kissing. The girl Lara can’t stop thinking about. The first time Chase flirts with her, Jasmine walks through the doors, only to reveal they’re completing their senior year together—and that she has no interest in picking up where they left off last summer. Everything about Lara’s senior year appears perfect—supportive friends, the most popular boy in school at her arm…so why can’t she get Jasmine and their summer together off her mind?
⚠️ Spoilers Ahead! ⚠️
Cool for the Summer is a light-hearted, quick summer read with definite queer Grease vibes. The story’s sweet, relatable sapphic spin is bound to hook you from the get-go. Lara is a first-generation Russian Ashkenazi Jew who thought she’d spend the summer working at an indie bookstore, only to travel to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with her mother instead. While staying at her mother’s boss’s beach house, she spends time with seemingly stand-offish Jasmine. The two bond in little moments we see through flashbacks—snippets that demonstrate even a summer is enough to discover real, life-changing love. Larissa’s character development, especially as she steps out from behind the shadows her friends have cast, is a beautiful example of how one moment can trigger metaphoric self-discovery and growth. Though her time with Larissa triggered that development, we see the continuous ripple effect it causes.
Adler doesn’t shy away from topics rarely explored in YA, including positivity regarding masturbation and sex. However, I do wish she’d explored some of the emotions behind those moments. Since Lara internalizes a lot of what she’s thinking and feeling, there was no real discussion that would have added depth to those scenes. However, I do wish I’d had this story growing up; it possibly could have changed everything.
I can’t stress quite how relatable this story was for me. Everything from the three-year-long unreciprocated crush to one summer of stolen moments and unexpected feelings that ultimately led to newfound self-awareness and -discovery were all pieces of my own bisexual coming-out story. Sometimes, the ever-after we write in our heads isn’t the ever-after we end up wanting—a realization Lara almost has too late.
This story was an opportunity to shatter a great number of bisexual stereotypes, especially since Lara is in a relationship when she realizes her feelings for Jasmine. There’s a brief comment, made by Chase, that almost delves into and defies those stereotypes of bisexuals “not being able to choose,” but Lara bites back her anger and brushes by it too quickly. While I’m beyond grateful that we’re getting more bisexual and overall queer stories, I do wish we could have opened that discussion. At the very least, it should have been a conversation Lara had with herself— her constant internalizing provided the perfect opportunity for it.
Anyone who’s read one of my previous reviews knows my biggest rom-com trope pet peeve is miscommunication. The entirety of this story feeds off the miscommunication between Lara and Jasmine. While that fear and confusion are real and relatable (I’ve lived through it myself), I do wish there was at least ONE attempt from either of them to try, long before that miscommunication escalates the conflict between them.
With how short this story is, there’s definitely room to explore the emotions behind certain scenes in-depth. Again, Lara internalizes almost everything instead of using a friend as a sounding board, leaving this story with more “telling” than “showing.”
This quintessential summer read is ideal for lovers of YA, happily-ever-afters, and stories of self-discovery. It’s also perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Alice Oseman. Happy reading!
✨ The Vibes ✨
☀️ Summer Love
💜 Bisexual (Questioning) and Aroace Rep
✡️ Jewish (Ashkenazi and Sephardi) Rep
⌛ Past/Present Timeline
❤️ Happily Ever After
💕 Love Triangle
⚠️ Content Warnings: Brief Biphobia, Underage Alcohol Consumption, Parental Divorce