Review: Cold Summer by Gwen Cole

April 24, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 3 ★★★

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Cold SummerCold Summer by Gwen Cole
Published by Sky Pony Press on May 2nd 2017
Genres: Time Travel, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Edelweiss
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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.

Everything about this story’s premise drew me in and made it a highly anticipated release for me. Did you see that beautiful cover too?! Kale has been time traveling since he was 7 years old. Each travel lands him in another random time that lasts just a few short days, and it happens uncontrollably about once a month. That is until recently when the travels start happening more frequently and he always end up at the same time and place, on a battlefield during World War II. The things he sees in the war have a lasting affect on him, as well as what the time travel is doing to him and his family in the present day. Enter Harper, an old childhood friend who comes back to town. She is determined to help Kale work through this and in her, he finds something worth fighting for. Sounds good, right? I think that is what I truly love most about this read, the bare bones of the story are so intriguing. Some aspects of the story worked well for me and some fell a little flat, unfortunately.

What I did like: Besides the spectacular premise I already mentioned, I also liked how Kale was portrayed. His PTSD felt real. Constantly thrust into a war every few days and then returning to ‘normal’ life in the present with no one really knowing the tragedies he’s seen… it’s awful. Harper’s Uncle Jasper was a favorite character of mine with a strong presence throughout the story. Not only was he an amazing uncle to Harper, but he also was an admirable role model for Kale. He treated both kids as if they were his own and looked out for them no matter what. I am also satisfied with how the novel came to an end for the characters. Things wrapped up nicely and though not everything I wanted to know felt answered in regards to the time travel, I got resolution that things were making a great turn around for Kale and his friends and family.

What I didn’t like: My biggest issue is related to when Kale started traveling and how that fit into his relationship with his family, especially his father. I think it was really smart to have the addition of strained relationships because of the constant traveling and all the unknowns. I mean, obviously believing in time travel is not so easy. And Kale’s father did not believe him when it first started and he gave up asking shortly after and chalked it up to a kid running off, creating a huge distance between the two. To me that makes sense… for an older child maybe. I mean, a teenager disappearing for days at a time is a little more plausible. Not okay mind you, but a teen’s thirst for some independence could be a reason one would take off. But a 7 year old?! I could not get over how seemingly flippant his parents were over his continued disappearances. Sure, they called the cops the first time but was that it? If my 7 year old was disappearing for days at a time every month I’d be flipping out with worry non-stop – was he kidnapped? Abused? Lying in a ditch somewhere? I just don’t understand why there wasn’t more of an uproar about it. Keep your eyes on him 24/7 to find out what is happening, even!  I honestly think that if the time travel started a little later in Kale’s life it would have made a world of difference to this story. I did like the eventual growth we see between Kale and his father though!

Uncle Jasper and Kale were definitely the best developed of the characters for me. Harper felt like she was missing a little depth and fell flat. I also wasn’t 100% feeling their relationship. There were a few side characters I wish we had more time to explore as well. Kale’s sister Libby felt like an afterthought and I wish she had more of a place in the story.

I did like how the story ended for the characters but I can’t help wishing we had a little more. We are never really given the explanation I was looking for for the time travel. It felt a little more open-ended than I wanted and I expected a little more oomph, to be honest.

On a whole, I liked this book and I think many others will as well. Perhaps my expectations were set a little too high and perhaps I let my role as a parent cloud the creative license to the story. I wanted so desperately to love this novel and in the end I found a good read with a few flaws.



About Gwen Cole

Gwen Cole grew up in upstate New York and then moved to Virginia where she did not graduate college. Instead she played bass guitar in a hardcore band and later married the lead guitarist. She enjoys large jigsaw puzzles, playing Xbox and softball, and watching movies. Gwen now lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and very large dog, where she longs to live in the country again. .

“If you’d like to contact me, please use the contact form on my website.”

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

3 Responses to “Review: Cold Summer by Gwen Cole”

  1. Heidi

    I really like the sound of this one too. I love WWII and time travel, but I am disappointed to hear that it didn’t wow you. The open ending and not explaining the time travel would bother me so I think this is one that I am going to pass on. Thanks for your helpful review.
    Heidi recently posted…Review: Alex Approximately by Jenn BennettMy Profile

  2. Febie

    The cover is really pretty and I think it’s a good book too. Thanks for the review. I can’t wait to read this. 🙂

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