Cold Summer, by Gwen Cole, for Timeslip Tuesday

This week's Timeslip Tuesday book is Cold Summer, by Gwen Cole (Sky Pony Press, 2017), a YA with a generous dash of romance made tricky by time travel.  It is now 6:45, and I haven't finished the book, so as time is marching on I'll quickly write about the 150 pages I have read, and then come back after each 50 page chunk to continue onward....

The first 150 pages did not, I think, need to be 150 pages long.  We have at this point gotten very familiar with the two main characters.  The girl character, Harper, has come to live with her Uncle Jasper in the small rural town she used to visit every summer when she was a young girl; she and her mom are calling it quits in their relationship.  The boy character, Kale, is a permanent resident of said town, except that he travels through time for a few days just about every week.  This stinks for him--his missing days have gotten him kicked out of school and alienated his father, who won't believe  him (though he's told a few other people who do, like Jasper, and since he disappears-poof!- when he time travels, and knows its about to happen, he could have timed it so his father had to see him vanish thus convincing him....).  Time travel stink for Kale more than it usually does because he's currently caught in a loop of having to go fight on the European front of WW II every week, which is horrible for him.  The time travel, though cruel, does at least return him to the past in the clothes he was wearing back then, so at least he doesn't have to worry (after the first time) about fitting in--he just has to kill people and stay alive.

Kale and Harper were the best of friends when they were young, and now are ready to be more than friends, and Kale has managed to explain to Harper that he time travels.  She would like him to stop, and so would he.  They have just kissed.  There have been lots of pages of minutia as they work up to this point.  I feel I have gotten all the points now, and am ready for some time travel explanation/resolution....


Now it is 7:04 and I've reached page 202.   Kale and Harper have kissed again, with more conviction, and Harper has held him in the present instead of seeing him slip into the past.  She's also had a realization that he's using the past as an escape from his unhappy present with all the tension between him and his father.  In the past, as he realized in his most recent trip to WW II, he feels needed and has a sense of belonging.   And so he's caught in a feedback loop of metaphorical portent...

Now to cook supper.

While I was cooking, Kale finds that his dad has taken up his old bad habit of drinking and gambling. Kale goes to look for him in the bar, finds him, and finds the two toughs to whom his dad owes money.  A fight ensues.  Kale gives the toughs his own beloved car to pay his dad's debt.  His dad has been listening to Kale's brother explaining things, and now believes Kale is a time traveler.  The barrier between them falls.

Yay! Page 236 brings real scary tension and threat and impetus to what had been pleasant enough but not deeply interesting reading.  Now the time travel thing threatens to be more than just a huge inconvenience for Kale....and suddenly I am reading a real page turner of a book, with lots of keen interest in the emotional states of the characters and how it will all work out...and the scenes back in WW II are incredibly vivid and gripping and all is tense.....(went and turned supper off to let it just sit there and think about life while I finished the book...)

Because this is a YA romance-type book, it's a pretty safe bet that you all expect Kale to live, and indeed it is a happy, hopeful ending in which the parents and the kids mend bridges and though Kale still time travels from time to time, at least WW II is over.  Though the time travel is never explained.

So if you like YA romance time travel where family healing is almost as important to the two main characters as their attraction for each other, that allows you plenty of time to watch the characters moving toward each other before it really gets going, give this one a try!  70 really interesting pages at the end, unsubtle but engrossing, 230 that you can skim gently and briskly to get the point of, with a few moments of heartfeltness but mostly not so much.  I liked the parts back in WW II the best.

Here's the Kirkus review, which more or less agrees with my take on things. 


  1. Love the cover, the premise and characters sound interesting, but I'm not sure I would make it through 230 pages to get to the 70 good ones! I've become a rather aggressive DNFer, out of sheer necessity. (I didn't used to be so ruthless!)

  2. I am reading a book right now that is badly overwritten as this one sounds. It's a good lesson for all writers that we, as readers, don't need every detail. This sounds like an intriguing story though. Thanks for the review.


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