Cold Summer by Gwen Cole
published: May 2nd, 2017 by Sky Pony Press
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. (Goodreads)
Although I did include the goodreads synopsis above I think it may reveal too much about the story. Regardless, this is a #2017debut you are going to want to pick up. Cole does an excellent job of weaving the two perspectives of Harper and Kale together to tell one helluva story. As Kristen Simmons said it’s “quietly intense” and will completely pull at your heart strings. It’s a tale of time travel, friendship, love, moving on, and family – the ones that we are born into and the ones we make ourselves.
The two main characters Harper and Kale were some of my favorite characters ever. They were multi-dimensional and so complex on their own but even more so together. At the start of Cold Summer Harper returns to her Uncle Jasper’s house, a place she usually spent her summers. However this time it’s a permanent move. Harper and her mother don’t seem to have a good relationship and the details of that are slowly revealed as the story progresses. So now it’s Harper and her Uncle Jasper. Her aunt passed away not so long ago so both Harper and Uncle Jasper are still adjusting to that loss. While Uncle Jasper could have been a place holder in the story (I see it happen far too often) he was his own fleshed out character and I loved that. He has a heart of gold and completely captured my heart. Kale (time traveler, boy next door, childhood friend turned hottie) lives in both the past and the present. In the past he is a sharpshooter in WWII watching his buddies die, shooting the enemy, and trying desperately to control his time-traveling ability. In the present he is a high school drop out that has a rocky relationship with his father because of the disappearances (to the past). Again Kale’s family, Libby, Bryce and Kale’s dad add even more layers to the story.
The romance that develops between Harper and Kale is not cutesy or overly sweet. It’s a mature relationship built on years of friendship. Growing up Kale never revealed to Harper the reason for his disappearances but as their relationship progresses he finally confines in her. With Kale being thrust into the past every few days Harper not so patiently awaits his return. And for Kale with Harper anchoring him to the present he wants to control his time traveling abilities more than ever before.
Other things that made me love the story: Harper is a gamer (like the author herself), Kale’s beat up Mustang, and the small town vibes.
I highly recommend Cold Summer by Gwen Cole. Not only was I lucky enough to nab an autographed copy but since the author is local-ish I hope to meet her in person one day so I can tell her how much I loved her book.