Releases: July 19th, 2022
Content Warnings: Gentrification, loss of a loved one, and an estranged loved one due to being LGBT.
***I received a digital ARC of this book through Netgalley***
This book started out strong, with their meet-cute giving off major Cinderella vibes. Summer always had a crush on Aoki but Aoki never noticed her…until the night of their graduation party. At the party, where masks are required, they bump into each other and share a passion-filled kiss. Summer, not wanting to spoil the magical moment, never gives Aoki her real name. Although Aoki doesn’t have a name, she has kept the earring Summer dropped that night as a memento of their perfect first kiss.
Now years later they re-unite as adults and the attraction is still strong, the only problem is they’re on opposite sides when it comes to a building project. The school they both graduated from, which Summer’s grandmother founded, is being torn down to create commercial spaces. After years away Summer hates to see the gentrification that has already affected their neighborhood and doesn’t want to see it also happen to the school her late grandma founded. Aoki is an architect who just happens to work for the company that’ll be tearing down the school and replacing it with commercial space.
When it came to the romance I didn’t feel like I saw enough interactions between Summer and Aoki to really show how they went from mutual physical attraction to more. They each spoke about how attracted they’ve always been to each other so it was easy to see the physical attraction but I didn’t feel like I got enough emotions, from either of them, to justify them saying they loved each other.
I would have loved to see Summer and Aoki spend more time with each other and open up even more to each other. Due to Summer protesting the build and Aoki being part of it I felt like they were always holding a lot back from each other when they did spend time together, which left me feeling confused when “love” started getting thrown around. I would have loved it if less time was spent on the first half and more time was spent showing their relationship develop after the main conflict was resolved.
Overall I enjoyed the story and would really be interesting in seeing more books written in this universe. I loved that not only were both the characters WOC but they both came from different backgrounds that were filled with love. Although Summer had a period of estrangement with her mother she was still surrounded by love, and acceptance, from everyone else around her. Aside from Summer’s mom, neither Summer nor Aoki had horrible experiences with coming out which I loved. It was beautiful to have a love story between two WOC where trauma wasn’t the main focus and even though they disagreed, over the construction, they both treated each other with respect when it came to their difference in opinion.