Book Review

Those Summer Nights

Those Summer Nights

  • Author: Laura Silverman
  • Genre: YA Romance
  • Publication Date: August 23, 2022
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Thank you to NetGalley and Margaret K. McElderry Books for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: mention of cancer, death, grief, alcohol use

Plot 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 Hannah’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.

Overall Impression

It’s no secret that I love Laura Silverman books, and this one is no exception. It’s a beautiful, complex, and deep story about a girl who is going through a lot, while also maintaining a humorous rom-com status, which isn’t a simple feat.

Hannah went from being a focused and successful soccer player on the road to the Olympics, to a downward spiral after a life-changing injury on the field. And the death of her beloved bubbe, the grandmother she was closest to out of everyone in her family, just compounded her feelings of loss and grief. This story plays out in both present day and flashbacks exploring what happened and how she’s dealing with the consequences of her actions.

After spending a year at boarding school, Hannah has one more chance to make things work at home this summer, so that she can earn her parents’ trust and return home for good. She gets a job at Bonanza, which turns out to be a blessing in disguise. It keeps her busy, and helps her make a new circle of friends, replacing the ones that she cut off when her life fell apart. It also kind of made me wish there was a place like Bonanza when I was growing up!

But nothing can be too easy—her former best friend and fellow teammate, Brie, works at Bonanza as well, making for some very awkward encounters. She immediately falls right into some sexual tension, with Patrick, a hot coworker, but also quickly realizes that she’s developing a crush on her younger brother’s best friend. As if all that isn’t enough, she’s also dreading the upcoming unveiling of her bubbe’s headstone, a traditional Jewish milestone that takes place 11 months after a death, bringing the grief front and center all over again. Plus, she’s got a parent-mandated list of things that she needs to do to prove herself okay to come back home for good, and not all of those things are easy to do. 

While Hannah is definitely a strong candidate for the hot mess of the year award, she’s also easy to empathize with. She’s funny, learning how to be more self-aware, and struggling with readjusting to a life where she can no longer engage in her passion, the one activity that gave her life meaning and that she excelled at. While I have the hand-eye coordination of a toddler, it’s not hard for me to understand the feeling of learning how to adjust to a new life after having the life you’re used to swept out from underneath you. 

There’s comedy interspersed in the story, and it makes it easier to handle the more difficult themes in the story—grief, loss, family discord, and underage drinking. The humor felt natural, and I loved that Hannah was a little awkward a lot of the time, because it made her feel so much more relatable, especially as she was working so hard to find herself. This is such a wonderful book with LGBTQ, Jewish, and diverse representation, and I’m an even bigger fan than ever. This is definitely one not to miss!

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