Review by Gabrielle

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His gaze met mine, and there it was. That spark of awareness that made my pulse pound and my hearing get fuzzy. How the heck had I managed to get a scorching case of “yes, please” for the hot librarian guy?

Summer Reading is a lovely book about believing in yourself.

For Samantha Gale, a summer on Martha’s Vineyard at her family’s tiny cottage was supposed to be about resurrecting her career as a chef, until she’s tasked with chaperoning her half-brother, Tyler. The teenage brainiac is spending his summer at the local library in a robotics competition, and there’s no place Sam, who’s dyslexic, likes less than the library. And because the universe hates her, the library’s interim director turns out to be the hot-reader guy whose book she accidentally destroyed on the ferry ride to the island.

Bennett Reynolds is on a quest to find his father, whose identity he’s never known. He’s taken the temporary job on the island to research the summer his mother spent there when she got pregnant with him. Ben tells himself he isn’t interested in a relationship right now. Yet as soon as Sam knocks his book into the ocean, he can’t stop thinking about her.

An irresistible attraction blossoms when Ben inspires Sam to create the cookbook she’s always dreamed about and she jumps all in on helping him find his father, and soon they realize their summer fling may heat up into a happily ever after.

The premise of this book is just too great. A librarian and someone with dyslexia falling in love? Yes please! I loved Sam and Ben’s meet cute on the ferry where she knocks his book into the ocean. And their relationship just continues from there. I loved how supportive they are of each other, helping each other achieve their goals. 

Sam is severely dyslexic and the book spends a lot of time showing us what life is like for Sam. I really appreciated this perspective. I could tell that Jenn did a lot of research and put a lot of care into making Sam as real as possible. I really loved Sam’s character. Although she doubts herself because of her past experiences such as being overlooked for jobs or getting dumped because of her disability, she is resilient and clever. With Ben’s help, she is able to do a lot of healing throughout this book, getting over the belief that her neurodivergent brain makes her somehow less than. For me this is a fine line for an author to tread. I don’t love it when a character’s growth is all because of a love interest. It’s fine for the love interest to support, have unwavering faith in, or pep talk the main character, but I like when a character finds some inner strength as well. I’m not a huge fan of “white knight” plots where the main character is “saved” by the love interest. This book does skirt that line pretty closely, I think I would have liked the book more had Sam not relied so heavily on the influence of others for her new found confidence.

Another great feature of this book is the developing relationship between Sam and her younger brother Tyler. Because of the age gap, and the fact they are step-siblings, they haven’t been close. When Sam is put in charge of looking after Tyler for the summer, they get to know each other better and develop a great sibling bond that made my heart happy.

A couple of things felt a little unresolved with this book and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Personally, I am okay with an author not neatly wrapping up every plot point in a bow for me, that just isn’t real life. But if you like a book where everything gets settled, this one might annoy you a bit. Ben’s relationship with his mother is a difficult one. And it doesn’t get resolved. I liked that Jenn included this because it felt more realistic to me. There is a secondary plot line with Sam’s best friend Em that also felt unresolved. It made me wonder if we’re being set up for another book starring Em in the future. I certainly hope so!

I just have to mention the library in this book. Both Ben and Sam’s best friend Em are librarians and I loved how they are portrayed. They are both so open, not judgemental and supportive of Sam, even though she isn’t a “reader”. It was so accurate to the many librarians that I know. Reading is reading whether you listen, read or watch your stories and I was glad to see this point reinforced throughout the book.

Summer Reading is a book with a lot of heart. 

Thank you, Berkley Romance, an imprint of Penguin Random House for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.