Social media influencing. Body image. And, of course, a murder.
Those elements entangled with a complicated friendship all make up “Big Summer” by Jennifer Weiner.
Our story starts with Daphne Berg’s former friend wanting back in her life. But now a plus-size Instagram influencer with a life she loves, Daphne is flummoxed about letting Drue waltz right back into her life with no problems. In fact, it’s risky for her emotional health.
Drue was part of Daphne’s formative years. She appeared by all intents and purposes to have the life everyone envied: a beautiful house, a private school education and a body that is attention grabbing. Daphne is none of those. She’s a scholarship at the private school with no friends and has a weight issue that has haunted her since early childhood.
But Drue — while her life looks beautiful from the outside — needs one key ingredient: friendship for her upcoming wedding on Cape Cod. That’s the plea she comes with to Daphne, wearing a shining rock on her left hand. She needs a maid of honor, apparently not making any friends in high school since Daphne.
The first half of this book, readers might think this is going to be an easy chick lit book about the complexities of female friendship. That is until Daphne wakes up to discover one of the wedding party dead after the rehearsal dinner.
Like Daphne, I was a little gobsmacked this book turned into a murder mystery, and while at first I was uncertain how I felt about it, I ended up liking this turn of events. It definitely deviates from the frenemy drama I thought was about to unfold and gives the book a bit of spice.
One aspect that got tiring was Daphne constantly worried about her weight. I get it. This a concrete portion of her identity and it cements a lot of her thoughts. Maybe it’s trying to play to her thoughts and give the reader more insight. But I found it a slog to see it reappear over and over, and it made her seem a little one dimensional, when I think the character is much more than whatever her weight reads on a scale.
Overall, I found the read entertaining, which is refreshing. Streaked with sunscreen while sitting by the pool, I continued to turn greasy page after page. In fact, I finished in a little over 36 hours because I felt so intrigued by how this story was going to end.
Emily West is a former newspaper journalist who lives in Franklin.