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Young Adult Fiction 484
charming and delightful YA contemporary romance
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COOL FOR THE SUMMER is a delightful YA contemporary romance. Lara (Larissa) is back at school for her senior year, and she feels different - the summer was life changing for her. On her first day back, when the guy she has been dreaming of for years starts flirting with her, she sees someone she never expected - Jasmine, her summer relationship. Although Jasmine has shown up at her school, it seems like she doesn't want to acknowledge their summer, and Lara is happy to oblige.

As Lara continues with her senior year, it seems like she might be getting what she always thought she wanted (Chase), but she is realizing that it may not actually be what she wants anymore.

What I loved: This was a fast-paced and engaging read that pulls the reader into Lara's life. The story is told in both now and then perspectives, with Lara dating Chase in the present and Jasmine in the then. The summer was transformative for Lara in many ways, not only in terms of how she questions her identity but also in terms of how she views herself and the way she begins to think more broadly about herself and her life. That confidence is what actually made Chase pay attention to her this year.

Lara had her coming-of-age style plot in the past, over the summer, when she began redefining herself and who she wants to be. That being said, she still struggles with her identity and what it could mean if she was not straight. In the process, she speaks to select others about this and adds to her confusion. Her path to figuring out her identity will resonate with some readers who may find themselves asking similar questions without always having known how they felt.

The dual timelines worked well in the story to show what her summer was like and where her conflicted feelings arose. In the wake of her summer, her relationships with her friends are also evolving, in ways that are ultimately positive. Friendship is a two-way street that both people have to feed their personalities into, and with the changes Lara has undergone, her friendships are also evolving. These relationships were also central to the story.

The story had great summery vibes, and I loved the way the ending all came together. While it took a while for Lara to see what the reader did, the book brought it to a happy and satisfying end.

What left me wanting more: Lara's personality at school seemed to be around her massive crush on Chase, and it was easy to see why her friendships were strained when this was all she previously talked about. With that in mind, it was easy to see how she could get swept into his orbit now that he was paying attention to her as well. However, these interactions, particularly the physical ones, were challenging to read, as Lara was clearly not very into it.

Final verdict: COOL FOR THE SUMMER is a charming and fast-paced YA contemporary romance that makes for a delightful summery read.
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