Biren, Sara. Cold Day in the Sun. Abrams, 2019. 307p. ISBN: 9781419733673. $11.79. MS HS AT *****
Holland Delviss works hard to be taken seriously as a skilled hockey player, not just as a girl hockey player. When her team is chosen to be showcased on a TV show, her status as the only girl on a boys’ hockey team takes the spotlight. While Holland has supportive family, friends, and a coach, not everyone thinks she deserves her spot on the team. She finds herself the target of hateful and sexist responses, but amidst it all, an unexpected romance begins with someone Holland never would have expected: Wes, her bossy team captain who she can’t stand—or can she?
Cold Day in the Sun is a pitch-perfect YA contemporary sports romance. Holland is an unapologetically strong female lead who is passionate about hockey. Holland receives sexist, hateful, and demeaning comments from opposing teams, as well as people within her community. She must push back against this, while proving that she deserves her spot on the team just as much as any boy. She fights hard to break down the assumptions people have about her as a female athlete: that she’s improper, that she’s a distraction to the boys, or that she’s taking a boy’s spot away. This book is full of feminist messages, reminding readers that girls can be powerful, athletic, strong, and can do anything boys can do. Holland and Wes are both white, straight, and cis; there are some minor characters of color.
The romance between Holland and Wes is both slow-burning and steamy. Contemporary romance readers will rejoice in this book, especially those who love sports romances, enemies-to-lovers stories, or forbidden romance. The relationship between Holland and Wes doesn’t go beyond flirtation and some making out, which makes “Cold Day in the Sun” a great recommendation for a wide age range of romance readers. The novel also clearly shows the characters asking for consent throughout their budding relationship.
Sara Biren nails the enemies-to-lovers theme with just the right touch of hate and a healthy dose of banter. The book is full of 80s & 90s music references, so music lovers will also enjoy this novel. Biren also perfectly balances the important exploration of women in sports with the light, fluffy romance. “Cold Day in the Sun” is perfect for fans of Jennifer E. Smith, Kasie West, and Emma Mills.
-Ari Nussbaum, Hayward Public Library