ARC Review: Those Summer Nights by Laura Silverman

  • Title: Those Summer Nights
  • Author: Laura Silverman
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Release Date: 8/23/22
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Age Range: Young Adult
  • Trigger Warnings: Underage drinking, death/grief, parental discord
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Publisher’s Summary: After recovering from a life-changing injury, a teen girl must navigate a new summer job, an ex-best friend, and two surprisingly attractive coworkers in this romp of a rom-com for fans of Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. Hannah used to be all about focus, back before she shattered her ankle and her Olympic dreams in one bad soccer play. These days, she’s all about distraction—anything to keep the painful memories of her recent past at bay, including the string of bad decisions that landed her at boarding school for a year. Enter Bonanza, the local entertainment multiplex and site of Hanna’s summer employment. With its mini golf course, bowling alley, and arcade—not to mention her hot, flirty coworker Patrick—Bonanza seems like the perfect way to stay distracted. Until her boss announces the annual Bonanza tournament, a staff competition that brings her past Olympic nightmares crashing back into her present. On top of that, the Bonanza staff includes Brie, the ex-best friend she cut off last year, and Ethan, her brother’s best friend who became unreasonably attractive in her year away and who accepts her, even knowing her worst secrets. Under the neon lights of Bonanza, Hannah must decide whether she can find a way to discover a new self in the midst of her old life. 

I absolutely LOVE books with Jewish rep. I saw Those Summer Nights on a list of upcoming romance books with Jewish characters, and I requested it on NetGalley immediately. Imagine my surprise as I started reading and realized that Hannah Klein, the main character, lives in MY TOWN in New Jersey.

Hannah is a fascinating main character. In the beginning of the book, the reader finds her in an incredibly difficult place in her life. She is at a crossroads one year after losing her beloved bubbe (grandmother) and her dream of being an Olympic soccer player. She has alienated her parents and friends with her destructive behavior, and her parents have threatened to send her back to boarding school if she doesn’t turn things around.

The reader gets to watch Hannah dig herself out of that hole. She shows responsibility by getting a job at Bonanza, and she even grows to love working there. She slowly but surely works to repair her familial relationships and her friendships. I love a good redemption story, and Hannah certainly brings herself back from a dark place over the course of the book.

Ethan also immediately won me over almost immediately. He serves as a perfect foil to Patrick, the cute coworker Hannah hooks up with at the beginning of the book. Patrick and the way Hannah interacts with him (hooking up in the boss’ office) represent all of the destructive behavior she needs to leave behind. Ethan cares deeply about Hannah and is beloved by her family. The connection Hannah and Ethan have is deep and real. They are able to talk about real things like Ethan’s parents and their constant fighting, and Hannah’s continued grief over her grandmother.

I loved that Those Summer Nights doesn’t reveal everything that happened to Hannah that lead to her dark place all at once. The book ends almost every chapter with a flashback to a year earlier, and slowly reveals how Hannah arrives at the place where she begins the story.

I thouroughly enjoyed going on Hannah’s journey with her. I would even love to learn what happens next in her story. I certainly will be reading whatever Silverman writes next.

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