BIG SUMMER – Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner released her latest novel, BIG SUMMER, early – just in time for my birthday.  I don’t typically pre-order books and I’ve promised my TBR pile that I would lay off adding to it until I’d whittled it down a bit more, but I couldn’t resist.  Weiner is a captivating personality, and listening to her talk about this book and seeing its beautiful summery covers had me apologizing to my stack and ordering it.  No regrets.  Jennifer Weiner is brilliant.  As someone who has struggled her entire life with her image and weight, I’ve never felt such a connection to a character as I do to the women she writes.  The older I get, the more I regret not doing things because I didn’t think I was pretty enough, skinny enough, good enough.  Weiner captures those fears that were so controlling when I was younger as well as the steps I’m continuing to take toward just being happy in my skin.  And the best part is the book isn’t about “body positivity” or “fat shaming” – it just happens to have an overweight protagonist who in her day to day life, deals with her own monsters – both real and imagined.
Daphne Berg is a plus-sized social media influencer.  She’s fought her demons regarding her weight since her grandmother watched her one summer and left scars that never go away.  Later, her “best friend” – the beautiful, rich, and perfect Drue Cavanaugh humiliates her over her size.  That is a turning point for Daphne, and she drops Drue and becomes #bodypositivity.  She babysits to supplement the influencer gig (both she and her dog are influencers and money is coming in just not enough), but she’s just scored a contract with a designer who wants everyone, regardless of size, to have cute clothing options.
Drue pops back up in her life and despite Daphne’s best efforts, she finds herself under the beautiful woman’s intoxicating spell yet again.  Her friend and roommate, Darshi, another of Drue’s many “victims,” cautions her but Daphne allows herself to believe Drue has changed.  She agrees to be maid of honor in Drue’s wedding at the Cape, where no expense has been spared.
The first part develops Daphne, our narrator, and those she surrounds herself with.  We see her fears, we feel them.  The reader forms such a connection that unlike Darshi, we understand Drue’s pull because we’ve either been Drue or Daphne – the moth or the flame – at some point in our lives.  Which makes the second part of the novel, the unexpected dead body and whodunnit, all the more powerful.
As this novel was just published, I’m going to avoid spoilers.  I will, however, highly recommend you pick it up.  The writing is smart, the steamy parts are perfectly steamy, and the mystery is well-done with a twist I didn’t see coming.  BIG SUMMER is the perfect summer read that you won’t want to put down until you reach the last page.

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