Dahlia Adler’s Cool for the Summer is a beach read you won’t be able to put down

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler. Image courtesy St. Martin’s Press & Wednesday Books
Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler. Image courtesy St. Martin’s Press & Wednesday Books /

Warm weather is upon us, and there’s no better way to celebrate than by soaking up the sun with a brand new book. Dahlia Adler’s Cool for the Summer is the ideal choice for anyone searching for a beach read — and no, not just because of its very fitting title.

A fun, lighthearted YA romance that calls back to the joys of summer during adolescence, Cool for the Summer follows Larissa Bodgan (better known as Lara) as she returns to school for her senior year after a summer of self-discovery. Told in alternating “Now” and “Then” chapters, the story sees Lara struggling to balance the girl she’s been with the person she’s becoming, making it as much a coming-of-age tale as an LGBTQ+ romance.

While staying with her mother’s boss and his daughter Jasmine for several months, Larissa doesn’t just uncover who she is and who she wants to be; she also falls for Jasmine, the first time she’s ever had romantic feelings for another girl — and the first time she’s been seriously interested in someone outside of her longtime crush on the school quarterback, Chase Harding.

Unfortunately, the beginning of the school year sees her falling back into her usual routine, with her friends in the dark about everything that unfolded during her summer away. When Jasmine unexpectedly enrolls in the same high school following weeks of silence, it throws a serious wrench in Lara’s plans to pretend the whole thing never happened — forcing her to address plenty of feelings she’s not sure she’s ready to.

Complicating matters further is the fact that Chase finally seems to have noticed her after years of her fangirling over him from the sidelines. Just as Lara is finally getting everything she’s ever dreamed of, Jasmine’s presence makes her realize she may not want that future anymore. Cool for the Summer sees her coping with that fact as any confused teenager would: by avoiding the situation and inadvertently making things more complicated in the process.

Cool for the Summer hits all the right beats

Adler’s latest uses the usual messy feelings and miscommunications to deliver a compelling coming-of-age story that will keep readers rooting for these characters, even as they repeatedly make frustrating choices. As Lara digs herself deeper and deeper into a love triangle it’s clear she’s not all that interested in, it’s hard to turn away from the pages — especially when you know an confrontation between her and Jasmine is imminent.

Lara’s attempts to grapple with her sexuality in the meantime feel incredibly relatable, and they underscore the fact that no coming-out experience is identical to another. Realizing your sexuality may not be what you’d always believed it to be is understandably jarring, and Adler captures that aspect of the story with care.

The “Then” sections of the narrative strengthen the tensions of the present-day storyline, delivering a summer romance on par with stories like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. The carefree, light memories of summertime complement the more strained, emotional aspects of the “Now” chapters, achieving an impressive balance between the two.

Not only does Cool for the Summer successfully walk the line between teenage angst and that joy you’ll only experience after a summer away from high school, but its pacing makes it an easy novel to fly through. Adler gives readers enough to fully invest themselves in the story’s central romance and its side characters, but she never dwells too long on any one thing. In that way, this release hits all the right beats, making it a perfect addition to any day spent lounging in the sun.

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Cool for the Summer is currently available in print, ebook and audiobook format. Do you plan on picking this YA romance up this summer?