Cold Summer by Gwen Cole

Today’s review is part of the official blog tour for this book. Be sure to keep reading for more about the book, author, and tour – plus your chance to win a copy!

A contemporary coming of age love story with a time traveling twist, Cold Summer by Gwen Cole is an enchanting romance about second chances, forgiveness, and a lesson in purpose.

Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future.

Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.

But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.

Cold Summer reminded me a lot of The Time-Traveler’s Wife – with Kale largely unable to control his ability, and Harper left behind to wait and worry in the present day. But while that book focused more on two people trying to build a life together despite the odds against them – Cold Summer is about Harper and Kale trying to figure out where they fit in to their worlds, while Kale struggles with the question of whether he’s even in the right world.

Much of the book reads like a contemporary, realistic bildungsroman — with each of the teen narrators grappling over their place in the world and within their families. What is their purpose?

Their struggles and challenges are uniquely different, but the shared burden and a childhood friendship brings them together. Because of their history together, the romance between Kale and Harper feels natural and easy, and Cole writes their stories with a sweetness that is endearing. You want to see these teens find a way to make it work.

And though it is a major driving force of the plot, Kale’s time traveling is treated less as The Thing This Book Is About and more as just a unique challenge for him to face. It’s part of his circumstances, and it’s treated naturally in the book. His time traveling just is, and Cole writes it with a breeziness that makes it easy for the reader to accept this as fact and go with the flow of the story.

As lovely as the romance is in Cold Summer, it actually plays backseat to the bigger picture of Kale and Harper’s relationships with their families. They each grapple with decisions they’ve made, and it’s seeing them grow and take steps forward in their lives as young adults that is really the star of the show — along with learning that things tend to happen for a reason. That we all have a purpose, even if it isn’t always clear what that purpose is.

Cold Summer is in stores tomorrow. Get it here:

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Gwen Cole writes Young Adult books and her debut novel, COLD SUMMER, will be released in the spring of 2017 with Sky Pony Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing.

She grew up in upstate New York, moved to Virginia where she did not graduate college, and worked a various number of jobs including pharmacy technician, meat clerk, ranch hand, and a receiving specialist at Target. She may or may not have written a number of books while working at certain jobs.

At the age of eighteen, Gwen played bass in a hardcore band and later married the lead guitarist. She can also play piano, guitar, and wishes she could play the cello. Her favorite place to vacation is Wyoming, where she gets to wear a cowboy hat and pretend she actually is one.

Gwen now lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and very large dog, where she longs to live in the country again.

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2 winners will receive a finished copy of COLD SUMMER, International. 5 winners will receive an ARC of COLD SUMMER, US Only.

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