Big Summer

In her latest literary offering, Jennifer Weiner focuses on what she does best – writing an engaging story featuring important contemporary issues as she pulls readers into the life of her relatable character. Big Summer is all that and a bag of chips but this time, Weiner throws in a twist that should pleasantly surprise her fans.

The first half of the book focuses on the childhood, personal and professional lives of Daphne Berg, a plus-sized social media influencer whose life got turned upside down one fateful night. I adored Daphne. She’s a character readers can get behind and it’s through her relationships with others and herself, that helped me get to know her – the good, the bad and the self-doubting. She’s a character readers will root for and I thought her career as a social media influencer was interesting and relevant.

Then, halfway through, there’s a big, wonderfully unexpected twist that turned this Contemporary Fiction read into a Mystery. What the what?! Yup. There’s one doozie of a twist which threw me for a loop and had me re-reading the shocking lines a couple of times. Oh my word! I loved it!

While mystery isn’t Weiner’s usual cuppa tea, she includes some red herrings and gives readers a satisfying conclusion without forgetting about character development or relevant issues she’s introduced. I loved the jolt of the twist and thought she did a bang up job on the mystery but it’s Weiner’s skill of weaving a likeable, relatable character and a story that is layered with pertinent and sensitive subject matter (including fat shaming, self-loathing, female friendships, social media sharing and family) that I will remember the most about this book. I particularly appreciated how the issue of people’s need to be seen and valued was addressed with sensitivity.

This is an excellent pick for a summer, hanging out at home kind of read. With its focus on relationships and important themes, including the drawbacks of sharing too much of our lives with the world online, Big Summer would make an excellent pick for a summer online book club.

— Laurie P.