Cool for the Summer

St. Martin’s/Wednesday. May 2021. 272p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250765826.
Gr 9 Up–This is at first glance a light teenage romance, but readers will find more depth within its pages. Lara has always blended into her group of friends and been hyper-focused on her crush on Chase, a football star in her school. Then she and her mother spend the summer away from New York on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Lara becomes friends with Jasmine. That friendship becomes a summer romance. Things get complicated when Jasmine shows up in New York in the fall to attend Lara’s school and becomes part of her friend group. Chase, who Lara has swooned over for years, starts to notice her at the same time Jasmine appears, leading to a love triangle. The strength of this novel is Lara’s discovery of herself and her sexuality. The relationship drama becomes the backdrop to Lara figuring out how to better understand who she wants to be, as opposed to simply copying the template of a cool friend. While some characters do echo typical teenage stereotypes, eclectic Jasmine is powerful and unique, and her relationship as a foil to Lara is refreshing. Lara is white and Jewish and Jasmine Syrian, Irish, and Jewish.
VERDICT Readers who enjoy romance will be delightfully surprised with this book that will take them a bit deeper on the road of self-discovery through high school crushes.

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