Summer Reading

Last year, I loved reading Jenn McKinlay‘s 2020 novel, Paris Is Always a Good Idea. Now she has a brand new book, Summer Reading, and I was thrilled to be included in the book tour for it. With a neurodivergent heroine, a librarian hero, and a focus on family, this is a sweet and inclusive romance.

Special thanks to the publicists at Penguin Random House and to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book!


Samantha has just returned home to Martha’s Vineyard, MA after quitting her job as a chef in Boston. While her dad and step-mother are on a European vacation, Sam will babysit (or rather, chaperone) her 14-year-old half-brother, Tyler, and hopefully figure out her next career move. But she’ll also have other things on her mind, including the good-looking librarian in town, Ben. Despite their obvious mutual interest in each other, Sam is convinced a relationship with Ben could never work. She’s dyslexic, and he’s devoted his life to books. Surely they’re too different… right? Sam is about to find out in a summer filled with reading, cooking, family dynamics, and romance.


First and foremost, I love that the main character in Summer Reading, Samantha, is dyslexic and that it plays such a central role in her life and relationships. My dad was dyslexic, and he often told me about how it affected him both when he was in school and as an adult. This is a topic close to my heart, and I loved getting to know a character who is dyslexic, how it affects her self-esteem, and how she navigates life around it. Here, it’s described with authenticity and sensitivity, and I loved seeing Samantha overcome her self-doubt and find that she’s accepted and deserving exactly how she is.

Taking it even further, I appreciate that Summer Reading is being published in a way that is friendly for dyslexic readers: sans serif font, use of bold instead of italics for emphasis, wider spacing between letters and words, and adjusted margins. It’s wonderful that this book is so inclusive!

Samantha has a lot of reservations about pursing a romance with Ben. He’s not only a big reader… he’s a librarian. How can she, a non-reader, have a lasting relationship with someone who’s devoted his life to books? Moreover, they’re both in Martha’s Vineyard, MA for the summer, with vague plans to move on to other jobs elsewhere once the summer ends. If they are going to pursue something, it will have to just be a summer fling… right? Despite these qualms, Samantha and Ben work together so easily. They’re a lovable couple who makes sense together, even with those surface-level differences. Their romance is breezy and sweet, and their reading dates are adorable. Fun fact: They read Paris Is Always a Good Idea together!! And then Samantha listens to an audiobook of Wait for It! Anyone who’s read those Jenn McKinlay books will be particularly charmed. Ben and Samantha fit together perfectly, and the conflicts they face aren’t with each other so much as personal issues and family issues.

Family is a major theme throughout Summer Reading. Samantha is there to babysit (or rather, chaperone) her 14-year-old half-brother, Tyler. They haven’t spent much quality time together up until now, but throughout this summer, they’ll finally have a chance to bond. I’m very close with my younger sister, and I always love seeing sibling relationships. Samantha and Tyler don’t start off that great, but I enjoyed seeing them start to understand and support one another.

For Ben, family is a bit more difficult: He never knew his father, and his unusual mother refuses to tell him who he is. Ben is on a quest to find this long-lost father, and Samantha is happy to help. But the answers they uncover may not be what either of them is expecting!

Summer Reading addresses important and difficult topics, like dyslexia, diverse family dynamics, and a friend’s health issues. But it’s also a charming, easy, and adorable read with fun, witty banter and heartwarming moments between the characters. It’s about romantic love, family love, and love between friends, and I enjoyed every second of it.

Final Thoughts

If you want a breezy, funny romance about family and neurodivergence, Summer Reading is the perfect book. You’ll love the characters and be left with a craving for Portuguese food. (Luckily there are some yummy-looking recipes in the back!)

And the fun will continue in a follow-up book focused on Samantha’s friend, Emily, and her trip to Ireland. I already can’t wait to read that! In the meantime, I have some other Jenn McKinlay books I’m eager to catch up on. Stay tuned for reviews of them all!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Get the Book

You can buy Summer Reading here – it’s available as a paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Summer Reading by Jenn McKinlay
GenreRomance; Women’s Fiction
SettingMartha’s Vineyard
Number of Pages480
Format I Readebook (NetGalley)
Original Publication DateMay 16, 2023

Official Summary

When a woman who’d rather do anything than read meets a swoon-worthy bookworm, sparks fly, making for one hot-summer fling in New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay’s new rom-com.

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 has dyslexia, 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.

About the Author

Jenn McKinlay

Credit: Jacqueline Hanna

Jenn McKinlay is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of several mystery and romance series and will be debuting a standalone romantic comedy in July 2020 entitled PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets, and her husband’s guitars.

More Reviews of Jenn McKinlay’s Books

Paris Is Always a Good Idea

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More Books by Jenn McKinlay

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Jenn McKinlay - Wait For It
Jenn McKinlay - Royal Valentine

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