Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What starts out as an inspiring story of a girl overcoming her insecurities about weight, who turns a viral situation into an influencer sensation, soon becomes a shocking tragedy that reveals a multitude of secrets and coverups.
A revealing social commentary about the realities of social media, Big Summer appealed to me instantly because of my own desires to increase my Instagram following among #bookstagram. I just recently read a book that dealt with a similar topic, albeit a much more annoying influencer, and where that one showed a much uglier side of that life, Big Summer manages to embrace the good while exposing the bad, and really, it does just all come down to balance.
Daphne’s life is fraught with heartbreaking middle school experiences, mostly because of her supposed friend, Drue, but even among the cringeworthy stories, there are moments when you can see the good person beneath what the money and privilege has twisted into a nasty façade. The memories she has with her father, of Sunday Dinners, were fun and inspiring. Her friendship with Darshi is real and refreshing. However, the meat of the story is around the tumultuous relationship between Drue and Daphne, their falling out, their reconciliation, and a death that reveals that nothing is ever what it seems.
Big Summer is a series of flashbacks, bouncing back and forth from middle school, college, elementary school, Christmases, summer vacations, and can at times be difficult to follow. More than once I would forget that I was reading something that had happened in the past until she’d snap back into the future. Otherwise, the story moves along at a steady pace, picking up about midway where you can’t put it down until the finale.
I very much enjoyed Big Summer, it was full of surprises but still had plenty of depth. It was a wonderful harmony of humanity and thrill that can appeal to almost anyone’s tastes in literature. You can recommend this book to all your friends, whether they regularly read crime novels, beach reads, or romances, this book has something for everyone.
Thank you to Atria Books for the free Advanced Readers Copy in exchange for an honest review.
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