Date of Publication: May 2017
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.
“Sometimes when you go through things, you bottle them up inside and try to act like everything is fine. Because you want to forget they ever happened. But you have to trust me when I say that doesn't work. In order for you to move on, you have to let them out.”
― Gwen Cole, Cold Summer
― Gwen Cole, Cold Summer
Time travel is a concept that I love to find in books. However, its inclusion can result in the story following one of two paths: time travel takes far too much precedence and convolutes the story with overcomplicated events and technicalities (for me, this happened with Pathfinder) or the concept isn't thought out well enough, resulting in plot holes and the inclusion of time travel becoming lackluster. However, with Cold Summer, Cole didn't overcomplicate any aspects of time travel, which surprised me. She made the explanation of Kale's abilities simple and to the point, which I greatly appreciated, but was slightly disappointed that there really wasn't much else to it.
Cold Summer reminds me of The Time Traveler's Wife in the sense that the main male protagonist will eventually die as a result of his time traveling abilities. This definitely peaked my interest and I just had to know how the story would unfold. I also found a happy medium of time travel and emotional depth/development of characters. Kale and Harper have a mature and fleshed out relationship that I fell in love with. Bonus, the two are just too freaking adorable together.
It was strange that Kale went from traveling infrequently to random points in the past (he has never traveled to the future) to traveling every three or four days to World War II where he was mistaken as an enlisted soldier, forcing him to fight and come to terms with his new reality -- killing Germans. He was stuck in a terrible situation and he came back to the present with a lot of baggage, including PTSD. What made it even worse was that only a handful of people actually believed that he traveled to the past, and his parents were not in that category. His mother eventually left and his father simply believes that Kale's running away from home or disappearing for selfish reasons. Thus, Kale has an extremely strained relationship with his dad.
Kale's circumstances and gift make him a broken character and this just made him even more interesting, especially when he has to come to terms with the reason as to why he has been time traveling more frequently. Cole also makes a point of bringing up the fact that maybe the universe has a plan for Kale and that his excursions could occur simply because he is capable of making even the slightest of good impacts. I also loved the fact that Harper respected Kale's secrets. She promised never to ask where he went when he disappeared and he in turn promised that he would always come back to her. They had such a sweet relationship and it just made the story so much better. Also, Harper was a gamer and often wore various video game related t-shirts, which I can appreciate.
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