The Comeback Summer
Grade : A-

This is a sweet summer read. I was drawn to the book by its colorful cover and a happy reading memory of Ali Brady’s last book, The Beach Trap. In The Comeback Summer we see two sisters, Hannah and Libby, conquer their fears and find love while working to save the public relations firm they inherited from their grandmother.

The sisters' company, The Freedman Group, has been losing clients and is in desperate need of new ones when Lou, a self-help author and motivational speaker, says she will consider using their company to promote her business if they agree to complete her 12-week Crush Your Comfort Zone  program. Libby must complete The Down and Dirty Race, an obstacle race course and Hannah has to go on twelve dates. I wondered how each sister would react when they were pushed to their limit.

Libby, the older sister, has always been there for her younger sister, Hannah. When their parents divorced twenty years ago, when Libby was nine and Hannah seven, their grandmother (GiGi) told Libby to look out for Hannah because their parents weren’t reliable. Libby, who is great with people, takes control of the office and tries to come up with ways to keep their business afloat. She has always been good at creative ideas like when she used to throw themed parties for her friends like the Passover is Over party where she served dip and leavened bread and the Yellow party where everything, including the food, drinks and outfits were yellow. She is plus-sized and struggles with body positivity. She doesn’t think she deserves a romantic love. She prefers to read romance books, avoids physical activity... and she is keeping a big secret from Hannah.

Hannah is beautiful, loves to run, listens to true crime podcasts, and handles the finances for the company. She is also very shy and has anxiety disorder. Joshua Jacobson, her boyfriend through high school and college, dumped her, and she became depressed. But she saw a therapist, and with Libby’s support and medication, she is managing well, but she feels uncomfortable around new people and doesn’t go out much. Now, five years later after their breakup, Josh, now back in Chicago and working at the Shedd Aquarium, calls Hannah and asks her to meet him for coffee. He shares with her that he was diagnosed in college with ADHD and how much medicine helps him. I appreciated how the characters in this book shared about their mental health struggles.

The sisters need a team of four for the Down and Dirty Race and have twelve weeks to prepare. Josh asks if he can be on their team and train with them and while Hannah agrees to this she lets him know she isn't interested in being more than friends. Hannah and Libby decide that outgoing Libby will download a dating app with Hannah’s pictures and profile and do the swiping and chatting, and choose dates for Hannah while Hannah will set up a training schedule for Libby and do it with her. The scenes with Hannah’s dates are funny like when one date gets upset at her for being too competitive when she beats him at pickleball. Libby starts to fall for Adam, one of the dates she found online for Hannah. Adam runs his family’s diner that serves delicious latkes and mandel bread. Jewish culture is beautifully showcased in this compassionate novel!

Both sisters struggle with their challenges and the stress that builds the closer they get to the day of the race. I found myself cheering for them as they worked to 'crush their comfort zones' and was surprised at the secrets that were revealed. The struggles felt real and the romances were wonderful and just when I thought I could see where the story was going, it turned out different than I expected. I found myself liking one of the sisters more than the other, but enjoyed both of their journeys. There are colorful secondary characters like Lou the self-help mentor and Scott their snarky office manager. One of the big themes in the book was how we all must learn to love ourselves. I recommend this book to readers who like stories with characters willing to step outside their comfort zones, sisterhood, second chance romance and found families. It's a gem!

Reviewed by Kayne Spooner
Grade : A-

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : May 9, 2023

Publication Date: 05/2023

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Kayne Spooner

Kayne Spooner is a retired science teacher, dog owner, and proud grandma who lives in beautiful Colorado. While she's an avid reader of all genres, romances have always swept her off her feet. Kayne gravitates toward stories with humor, swoon-worthy love interests, and memorable furry sidekicks, although really, if there's a happy ever after, she's here for it! She loves sharing her passion for books with the romance community and connecting with fellow readers.
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