Lara has had a crush on the high school quarterback for years, and everyone knows it. Not just her close group of friends, who have had to listen to Lara talk about Chase Harding all through middle and high school, but also the entire school and, quite frankly, Chase himself. When everyone returns from summer vacation, Lara is stunned when it seems that her dreams of dating Chase may come true. Instead of floating on air and falling in love, Lara is unsettled. Then someone from her past unexpectedly shows up on the first day of senior year: Jasmine.
In alternating chapters, we learn that Lara spent the preceding summer on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where her mom works as the executive assistant for a wealthy businessman. There, Lara meets Jasmine, the businessman’s daughter, who invites her along for an unforgettable few months filled with bonfires and sunburns. Eventually Lara is confronted with her romantic feelings for Jasmine and struggles to figure out what they mean. Over the course of the summer and during senior year, Lara has to determine who she is and what she wants.
As one reads this resonant novel, it is easy to feel close to Lara, Jasmine, and their friends. Dahlia Adler deftly evokes the process of growing into oneself in high school; this book will certainly bring back memories for readers no longer in their teens. Although Judaism is not prominent in the plot, both Lara and Jasmine’s families are Jewish and have wonderful moments together — including a beautiful Shabbat dinner — that make Lara and Jasmine’s connection even deeper and more relatable. The way that Cool for the Summer alternates between current and past timelines makes it easy to understand how Lara falls for Jasmine (and vice versa), and how challenging it is for Lara to face (and to tell her friends about!) this once she returns home.
Written in a clear, accessible style, this book tells the compelling and sweet story of one girl’s journey of self-discovery.