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My first and biggest praise for this book is the way the many complicated and painful family dynamics were handled. It could have fallen into the realm of cliché over and over again, but it thankfully never did. There were many losses, both physical and metaphorical, but I think the toughest loss for me was Aunt Holly's, who's already been gone for several years when the book begins. It's just that simple nostalgia, of remembering the way things were and wanting to go back to it, that really makes the reader feel the absence. On Kale's side of the story, the most painful loss was his relationship with Bryce, his brother. I felt like it was the loss that made Kale's character feel the most alone in his world. There was basically no one to have his back anymore, which is why he felt more at home in the past, in the hostile yet very loyal environment that was WWII.
My second praise for COLD SUMMER, is it's romance. It was something the characters grew very naturally into, with just enough awkwardness along the way to make it real. For a while, Kale and Harper didn't know how to handle this thing they had for each other, which really is the way first loves kind of go. By the end of the book, I felt like they were a solid unit who would have each other's backs for life. Both the protagonists voices, Kale and Harper, were their own, and I thought the way they acted and reacted to each other was true to their voices right up until the end.
I like that the time-traveling element became a secondary character, never distracting, never demanding too much from the reader. It was simple the way that ghost stories are simple. Simple the way that true love is simple. It doesn't have to be explained. It just is. And I was totally happy with that.
So at the end of the day, COLD SUMMER burrowed itself deep into my heart where it will stay for a very long time. I fell in love with Harper, with Kale, with Uncle Jasper, Miles and Grace, and even Kale's long-distance sister Libby (who I was quite sad to never meet). For a moment, all of their problems became my own, and I was thankful that by the end of the book, most of those problems had made their much needed peace with the characters. I couldn't be more proud of a YA debut.
I loved Kale and Harper right away. I thought they were both very genuine and realistic characters. Throughout the book I found myself rooting for them while they were each dealing with their own demons and their feelings for each other.
I also thought the dual point of view worked really well. Gwen Cole did a great job in making Kale and Harper's voices distinct from one another. I don't think the story would have worked as well if it was only told from Kale's point of view.
I have to mention Uncle Jasper. He was one of my favorite characters in the book. I loved how he was a father figure to both Kale and Harper. I could really feel how much he cared for both of them and wanted them safe and happy. (I also got the feeling he was a big KalexHarper shipper).
I was surprised at how addicting this book was for me. I started it thinking I would read chapter or two but ended up reading almost half the book in one sitting. With Cole's writing and the chapters being on the shorter side it was easy to get swept away.
My only complaint is that the pacing seemed a little off in the second half of the book. Some events felt dragged out when they could have been shortened and vice versa.
Overall, this book was a pleasant surprise. I look forward to seeing what else Cole will write in the future.
Most recent customer reviews
I enjoyed the plot and for the most part found it to be unpredictable yet down-to-earth.Read more