Sum­mer Nights and Meteorites

  • Review
By – June 17, 2024

The third nov­el in Han­nah Reynold’s Gold­en Doors series is a rom-com set on Nan­tuck­et with sexy and brainy sur­pris­es. Jor­dan has vowed she will enter no new rela­tion­ships this sum­mer before col­lege, giv­en how bad­ly all of her oth­ers end­ed. She looks for­ward to help­ing her father out with his nav­i­ga­tion­al research, and she jeal­ous­ly hopes to replace Ethan Bar­banel, the young assis­tant he keeps prais­ing. She ends up assist­ing a Black female astronomer who is track­ing debris’s orbit around the earth. The work expos­es the live­ly teen to the per­son­al his­to­ry of one astronomer’s accom­plish­ments and the larg­er sto­ry of women’s ongo­ing strug­gle for recog­ni­tion in the field.

Judaism doesn’t play as cen­tral a part in the plot as it did in Reynolds’s The Sum­mer of Lost Let­ters, but it is a def­i­nite pres­ence. The Bar­banel clan, with whom Jor­dan is stay­ing, cel­e­brates Shab­bat every Fri­day night. Jor­dan decides to reach out to her reserved father, who put Jew­ish obser­vance aside when his wife, Jordan’s moth­er, died when Jor­dan was four. In a humor­ous sub­plot, Jor­dan sub­tly — and some­times not so sub­tly — tries to match her father up with her astronomer boss.

This pep­py first-per­son nov­el delights with lines like I stud­ied this boy who I resent­ed and who I desired, who aggra­vat­ed me and who made me laugh” and Ethan was some­times a gold­en retriev­er who want­ed to make peo­ple feel bet­ter.” Through­out the book, Jor­dan must con­front the chal­lenges of research, polit­i­cal dilem­mas, and her own emo­tions. Luck­i­ly, she has friends and fam­i­ly who’ll stand by her.

Sharon Elswit, author of The Jew­ish Sto­ry Find­er and a school librar­i­an for forty years in NYC, now resides in San Fran­cis­co, where she shares tales aloud in a local JCC preschool and vol­un­teers with 826 Valen­cia to help stu­dents write their own sto­ries and poems.

Discussion Questions