Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

49078967. sy475 Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Published May 5th 2020 by Atria Books

364 Pages

Goodreads Summary: The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the “nothing short of brilliant” (People) Mrs. Everything returns with an unforgettable novel about friendship and forgiveness set during a disastrous wedding on picturesque Cape Cod.

Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.

Drue was always the one who had everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friend’s siren song.

A sparkling novel about the complexities of female friendship, the pitfalls of living out loud and online, and the resilience of the human heart, Big Summer is a witty, moving story about family, friendship, and figuring out what matters most.

Review: Last year I read and reviewed Jennifer Weiner’s Mrs. Everything, which I thoroughly enjoyed, so I was very excited when I was invited to read and review her 2020 release. Based on the cover and summary I was expecting a feel good summer tale of a friendship reunited however that is not quite what happened.

I thought the book was off to a great start with the prologue… a flashback to the 90s to a mother and her young son starting new on Cape Cod when everyone in her life had written her off. There was even an ode to Blueberries For Sal which was one of my absolute favorite children’s books growing up. When the first chapter jumped to 2018 I assumed it would still have some connection to the prologue but that connection wasn’t made until the book was more than halfway over.  After being introduced to the main character, Daphne, I could easily empathize with her and felt myself connecting with many of the things that she felt before she had embraced her size.  I was horrified at what her so-called friend, Drue, did to her that caused her to get to that point.  A few years later when Drue tries to get Daphne to agree to be in her wedding I was floored by her audacity to even ask such a thing. Drue is the perfect definition of a mean girl. Even before the big even that pushed Daphne over the edge, it was easy to see that Drue was a horrible person to her when they were in school… wanting to hang out with her one day, ignoring her the next. As I was reading there I was silently pleading with Daphne to turn her down and not give in. Drue apologized to her and claimed that she was a changed person. Daphne accepted her request to be in the wedding. I thought at that point that we would see the two of them become friends again and that, hopefully, Drue had changed. It seemed like that was a real possibility and then WHAM… plot twist! I did not see that coming AT ALL! Based on the summary, I did not think this was going to become a murder mystery. I don’t want to say much more than that because I don’t want to spoil it.

At the beginning of the review I mentioned that the characters in the prologue weren’t actually relevant to the story until over halfway through the book. When it was revealed what the connection was, it felt kind of predictable. The ending was a little blah. When it is revealed who did it and why they did it, I had to roll my eyes a little bit.

Overall, I liked this book but didn’t quite love it. It was well written and the plot twist was well executed but I felt like there were some things that were unnecessary and made the story more dramatic than it needed to be.

3 Stars

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

41592780Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Published June 11, 2019 by Atria Books

416 Pages

Goodreads Summary: From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes, comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

Review: I had never read a book by Jennifer Weiner before this but knew that she is a pretty popular author so I was pretty excited that the publisher asked me to review this one. The characters of Jo and Bethie felt like they were written in a way to represent all women. Each of them face individual struggles that break your heart as you read them. Jo isn’t your typical teenage girl. She has a secret that she is terrified of it getting out. But she also wants to be able to live the life she wants without people treating her differently. Bethie becomes a victim of abuse from a family member who should have been there to protect her. As both sisters grow up and experience various hardships, their biggest challenge is realizing who they are and figuring out what they want out of life. Are they going to settle for what’s easy or are they going to work for the life they want? Reading their journey, both individually and together as sisters, was really moving. One thing about this book that really impressed me was the whole scope of the book. The author managed to fit in so many issues including race, religion, and sexual assault. The characters participate in everything from the civil rights movement as Jo actively participates in weekly demonstrations for equality, all the way up to the current #metoo movement. The book spans several decades so there were times when it seemed to drag on a little too long but overall I really enjoyed this book. This story will stick with me for awhile.

4 Stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.