Big Summer a novel

by Jennifer Weiner

Book, 2020



Call number




New York : Atria Books, 2020


Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne is shocked when Drue 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.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member nancyadair
I've been in lockdown for two months, reading books on environmental justice and refugees and war; it was time to pick up something completely different. So, I snatched up Jennifer Weiner's newest novel Big Summer.

With some trepidation, having learned the protagonist is a plus-sized beauty with
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self-doubt. Could strike a little too close to home, or could make me seethe with stereotypes.

Daphne has built a career as an influencer and her latest sponsor is a fashion designer who wants to expand into plus sizes. Leela's clothing makes Daphne feel glamorous and confident.

Perfect timing, as Daphne has a wedding to attend.

Out of the blue, Daphne's high school friend Drue called with a request to be her maid of honor. Daphne was doubtful at first.

Drue was wealthy and had been a mean teen who took up, used, and dropped friends. But their adventures together were always exciting. And Drue seemed to genuinely admire Daphne's relationship with her folks, especially her dad.

Their relationship ended badly when Drue took Daphne clubbing where an arranged 'date' was to give her a night to remember. Daphne learned of the arrangement and had a melt down--recorded on a cell phone. The video became a social media sensation.

Daphne used the moment to rebrand herself into a fierce fat woman promoting self-acceptance.

Drue pleads she is a changed woman, making amends for her teenage terror years. Daphne gives her another chance.

At the wedding, Daphne learns that Drue isn't as excited as a bride should be. The over-the-top wedding costs big bucks, and Drue's dad interrupts the party with a meltdown. There's trouble in paradise.

The first section of the novel is typical women's fiction, its well-developed characters dealing with issues readers will relate to.

Then comes a sexual encounter between Daphne and a wedding guest. Warning: it's a bit of a sex manual about how to use hands, etc. The next morning he is missing.

Everything changes when Drue is discovered dead. Daphne and her mystery lover are prime suspects. The rest of the novel is the unraveling of Drue's family secrets and the identity of her killer. I didn't put the novel down. I loved the unraveling of the mystery.

Weiner nicely incorporates the current online culture of social media, living one's life online. Followers want genuineness, but how does one keep a boundary between the personal and the public?

At first I didn't relate to Daphne's relationship to Drue on a personal level. Then...I remembered...

When I was fourteen a girl from Eighth Grade took me up as a friend. She lived in the posh neighborhood in an amazing house her father designed. My dad was an auto mechanic and we lived in a modest, working class house. My friend encouraged me to lose weight and loosen up, have fun. (I was a serious kid who read the classics and played the classics etc.) Then, a year later, she pushed me away by being mean. I invited her to some parties over the years, but we were never again close. Years later she called my mother and admitted she treated me rotten.

Big Summer is branded as a 'beach read,' a term I don't quite understand since I don't do beaches. (Sunshine give me hives.) So, maybe a sit in the shade on the patio read? But in true Weiner style, it incorporates deeper themes of self-image, class, and social media issues.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.
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LibraryThing member fastforward
Out of all the books I have read during this period of quarantine, this by far has been my favorite distraction read. It felt so nice to be able to relax with a solid main character and a story that held my interest as my concentration level hasn't been at a high level recently. The book was a good
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mix of mindless escapism and a little bit of substance but not nearly enough to make it a heavy read.

Six years Daphne Berg stopped talking to her childhood friend, Drue Cavanaugh, after a huge fight. Drue has good looks, money, and charm but she's also one of those Mean Girl types and Daphne was always regulated to a more sidekick role rather than the two of them being equals. But now Daphne has achieved some success as a plus-size influencer on social media and Drue reneters her life asking for a big favor. You see Drue is getting married to a reality tv star and she wants Daphne to be one of her bridesmaids. Given the wedding will get a lot of press, career wise it would be smart for Daphne to accept, but by doing so she opens herself up to potentially getting hurt again.

Daphne is someone who you can't help but root for and want her to be happy and successful in life. While we all know a Drue type person in real life, most of us more like Daphne and that's why she is a relatable character.

This is a quick and easy read but there are quite a few things going on in the story. I found myself fascinated with Daphne's relationships with other people in her life besides Drue as it provided a good context to who she was as a person. The social media aspects of the story were interesting to me as well. I don't want to give away too much of the plot but there are two rather distinct parts of the story. I might not have loved everything in the second part but I do like it when writers take a chance and keep readers on their toes.

Definitely recommend if you are looking for a decent escape from the real world type of read. I normally would say this is a good beach/vacation read but time's have changed so let's just call it a good quarantine read.

Thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for providing me an advance digital copy in exchange for an honest review!
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LibraryThing member brangwinn
Thank goodness for Weiner, I learned about social media “influencers”. For me, Weiner’s books are escape. I need not have to keep track of numerous characters. Her characters almost seem to be cookie cutter stereotypes. And its no different in this book, part romance, part mean girl, part
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LibraryThing member jillrhudy
A natural for summer reading, for fans of light women's fiction who like a bit of depth. A sudden turn into murder mystery territory only adds to the delicious diversion this novel provides for the reader. Friendships, family, and even social media are given thoughtful treatment in the plot.

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is a big girl whose profitable Instagram account portrays her as a triumphant victor over poor self-esteem and a master of body positive hashtags and plus-size marketing. Daphne's frenemy Dru, however, has a way of dragging her right back into high school. Glamorous and wealthy, Dru is the last word in Mean Girls, who has a long-standing habit of using and hurting people, even though her personal magnetism makes her easy to believe and hard to resist. Dru is out of Daphne's life, and firmly relegated to the unpleasant past, or so Daphne thinks. When Dru turns up asking Daphne to be her maid of honor at a million dollar Cape Cod wedding, Daphne reluctantly accepts, for business reasons. But nothing is as it appears. Not the wedding, not Dru, not Dru's enviable life—and even Daphne learns many startling things about herself, her romantic prospects, and her current business arrangements that no one could ever guess from looking at her Instagram.

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley and was encouraged to submit a review.
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LibraryThing member kimkimkim
Now that was fun. I had no idea that I was about to become involved in a frothy, funny, murder mystery investigated by a bunch of very quirky characters. Nasty doings in the first part – “You’re ugly. You’re fat. No one likes you. No one ever will.” Hard words to shake off. Somehow,
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Daphne, the protagonist accepts and embraces her body and herself and slaps downs her detractors. Well, almost but I was always rooting for her – weren’t you? And that is inspired writing. Murderous doings in the second part and whoever thought murder could be slightly hilarious?!

The big takeaway for me, through Daphne’s musing, is realizing that s easy to be envied when you have love all around you, a job you like, a loyal dog, a true friend and enough confidence to accept all of it – as I said inspired writing.

Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for a copy.
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LibraryThing member astults
My reaction to this book would be head exploding emoji followed by screaming face emoji and ending with a smiling emoji.

I finished this on the heels of Mrs. Everything. Both novels feature female main characters doing the best they can, and trying to navigate relationships, but couldn't be more
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different in style, tone, or plot.

The head exploding emoji is because I was blown away that this was written by the same person as Mrs. Everything. The screaming face emoji because the plot took a turn and it went from an empowerment book into a mystery complete with Scooby gang. The smiling emoji is how I felt about it at the end. Happy I read it and so glad that my life is nothing like most of the characters.

This was a perfect read while staying at home to flatten the curve during the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic. It brought back happy memories of Top Sail beach vacations I've taken in the past. It was dramatic but it wasn't serious and heavy.
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LibraryThing member Twink
And continuing on with my summer listens list is the newly released Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner.

I read Weiner's debut novel, Good in Bed, back in 2001 and have been a fan of her stories ever since.

Big Summer's lead character is Daphne Berg. She's an influencer for plus size women. She's finally
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found success, self acceptance and happiness. But when her high school 'best friend' Drue contacts her after many years, Daphne's doubts about herself and their relationship back then resurface. But, she's going to be the bigger person and agrees to be Drue's maid of honor at her upcoming nuptials.

Daphne is an influencer. I learned a lot about those who have this as a career. Lots and lots of time spent posting - and posing to garner those followers and likes. "Even if things don’t get better, you can always make them look good on the Internet."

Big Summer starts off with a prologue that puzzled me as I began to read the following chapters. How was this going to tie into Daphne's story? I initially thought that Big Summer would only be a story of relationships, with others and one's self .Which I would have been very happy with! When I reached what could have been an ending, I was surprised to find there was more to hear - lots more. You see, Big Summer morphs into a mystery! And that's kind of the second half of the book. And that prologue finally ties in.

I really liked Daphne as a lead character. She's funny, kind and her voice, experiences, thoughts and thoughts all ring true. Weiner has written many of her characters from her own experiences and her books benefit greatly from that personal injection. I was reminded of earlier books' characters, all as well liked. Mean girl Drue is the one you'll love to hate.....or will you? My feelings on her changed more than once, as secrets and truths are revealed.

The mystery is intriguing, with more than one culprit offered up for the crime. Things got busy in this latter half and I'm not sure all the plot devices worked for me. But, I did enjoy both parts of this novel. The social aspects, the relationships, resolutions and a nice whodunit kept me eagerly listening.

I choose to listen to Big Summer. The narrator was Danielle Macdonald. She was perfect! Her voice has a younger tone to it and is very expressive, matching the image I had mentally created for the character. Her voice is pleasant and easy to listen to. She speaks clearly and enunciates well. Macdonald interpreted and presented the author's work 'just right'. Bottom line - I believed in the performance. I started thinking I had listened to a previous book by this narrator. It was only on looking up Danielle Macdonald that I discovered she was the actress who starred in Dumplin'.

Another good addition to your summer reads/listens list.
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LibraryThing member MegDendler
Not at all what I was expecting based on the title and cover, but I enjoyed it thoroughly -- right until the end. Sadly, without giving spoilers, I didn't buy how the characters got to the big climax or what they did in that moment. It felt very forced and not logical, which was really too bad
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because I was totally onboard until then. The main "message" was also hit on and spelled out a few too many times for me.
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LibraryThing member oddandbookish
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher (Atria Books) and a finished copy from BookSparks for promotional purposes.
I went into this book pretty blind which I think is the ideal way to read this book. The book description doesn’t give a whole lot of information. The only thing I really
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knew about this book was that it had a lot of unexpected twists and turns. That is 100% true. I can truthfully say that I did not see any of it coming.

I found the pacing of the book to be a bit off. It gets off to a really slow start. It didn’t capture my interest until around page 90. There were a lot of flashbacks in the beginning that I felt slowed the book down. Fast forward to the last 90 pages, and that was incredibly fast paced.

My favorite character was actually Drue. She reminded me a lot of Fallon Carrington from the CW’s reboot of the show, Dynasty. They had similar personalities to an extent.

As for the plot, I still don’t quite know if I liked it or not. It was fun because it was unexpected, but at the same time I didn’t love it.

Overall, I do recommend this book because of the unexpected surprises. It makes for a fun reading experience. This is not your typical summer beach read, so if you’re looking for something a little different, try it out!
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LibraryThing member DKnight0918
Such a page turner.
LibraryThing member ecataldi
This would have gotten a 5 star from me but I was completely thrown by the *SPOILER ALERT* murder mystery portion in the second half of the novel. I really like Daphne and she seemed like a real well fleshed out (ha ha) character that I enjoyed. As a plus size lady myself she came across as
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authentic which doesn't always come across in books. Daphne is a plus size influencer who finally came to terms with her body about 6 or 7 years prior when her frenemy paid a man to flirt with her and then got mad when Daphne was upset. Once she cut out the frenemy (Drue) and came to terms with her body - doors opened up for her and she just landed a sweet new sponsorship for her instagram. Then out of the blue Drue comes crashing back into her life asking if Daphne will be her maid of honor because she doesn't really have any friends. Daphne gets sucked right back in because she is a sucker for a sob story and even though Drue has a mean streak - she just has that fun aura about her. First half of the book was great - second half was a little out there.
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LibraryThing member KarenOdden
This book had more heart and heft than I expected it would, honestly, but it's an odd novel ... and after reading a few other reviews, I realize I'm not the only one who thought so. The first half is fairly standard chick-lit--a young woman protagonist overcomes her personal challenges to become a
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successful plus-size instagram influencer and begins to reconcile with her troubled, former mean-girl/BFF from high school. Then, at the half-way point, there's a death, and the book suddenly becomes a whodunnit mystery. The characters transform into intuitively capable amateur detectives, the pace picks up, and we're sped along to a conclusion. It didn't quite work for me, partly because many of the insights about our fat-shaming, diet-obsessive culture (while enlightened) didn't feel fresh or original to me, as I think Weiner intended; bestselling author Geneen Roth was writing about these issues, in very similar language to what Weiner uses, back in the 1990s. The message seems to be that our bad deeds come back to haunt us, and parental love makes the difference ... maybe a bit too pat? However, it was a quick, easy read, one day for me.
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LibraryThing member Cats57
I will say that this was a good but slightly depressing book for the first 2/3 of the book (fat-shaming, bullying, stuff that when I went to school 45 years ago we didn't have to put up with on this level.) with a lot of terrible behavior on the females part. Surprisingly it turns into a very good
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mystery for about the last 1/3 that I didn't see coming.

This book also gives those who aren't familiar with all types of social media (like me) a look into what they are missing -in my opinion, we aren't missing all that much! There is some deep talk about how the constant use of phones, apps, Instagram, and whatnot are making us less able for us to behave one-on-one with an actual person! I know, I know -it's a new world!

I did enjoy this book enough to add this to my comfort read shelf and that means it will be a go-to read when I need something I know I'm going to like.

*ARC supplied by the publisher.
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LibraryThing member tamidale
Jennifer Weiner brings readers another entertaining read to kick off the summer! Set in both New York and Cape Cod, Weiner brings together mean girls, high profile careers, romance, a bit of the past and a big wedding weekend that is anything but forgettable.

When Daphne Berg starts being contacted
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by her old friend, Drue, she is reluctant to revisit the friendship. Drue was one of those people that can be toxic, so being her friend was loaded with pitfalls. But this time, Drue insists she has changed and begs Daphne to be a member of her wedding party.

Daphne, being soft-hearted, relents and the wedding festivities soon begin. With everything all picked out, Daphne cautiously heads off to Cape Cod for the big weekend. Up until this point, I was thinking the story might be one that I would forget about soon after reading. However, once the weekend gets under way, an event happens that turns the whole story another direction!

I must say, Weiner definitely grabbed my attention at about the midway point and I flew through the remainder of the book. I like fiction, but throw in a bit of a mystery and I’m hooked. This is great for summer reading!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Atria for allowing me to read an advance copy and give my honest review.
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LibraryThing member mojomomma
Daphne is a plus-size social media influencer, but still suffers from self-doubt and a badly managed "fix up" her sometimes friend Drue foisted on her. Years later, Drue emerges looking for bridesmaids and because of the social media splash, Daphne agrees. But then the bride is found drowned in a
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hot tub the morning of the wedding and Daphne is a suspect. Daphne and her new friend, who happens to be Drue's half-brother and her roommate solve the case.
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LibraryThing member LindaLoretz
I had been reading some heavy-duty books, was looking forward to a beach book, and decided on Big Summer. Although I read it in a few hours and it held my interest, I was disappointed. The characters and situations didn't seem realistic to me. I recognize that mean girls exist, and scholarship
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students don't necessarily have good experiences at private prep schools, but the series of events that bring Daphne to be part of Drue's wedding party didn't appeal to me as realistic fiction. Then, the interactions that Daphne has at the wedding and afterward are not all that logical. I felt that I was reading a poorly written book for teenagers rather than the well-crafted women's fiction I've come to expect from Jennifer Weiner.
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LibraryThing member KatherineGregg
This is a fun beach read about complicated friendship, familial relationships, and murder. Drue Cavanaugh, rich, beautiful, and decidedly a "mean girl", is found dead on her wedding day by Daphne Berg, her maid of honor. Drue had recently tracked down Daphne and practically begged her to be her
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maid of honor after a falling out years ago. Daphne, always a sucker for Drue's charming ways, reluctantly agrees to be part of the wedding party. The Cape Cod wedding is over the top extravagant, however an ugly fight between Drue's parents puts a damper on the weekend. Shocked and saddened by the death of her old frenemy, Daphne embarks on solving the murder and tracking down the murderer. As is turns out, both Drue and the murdered, an old former classmate who was seeking vengeance for a prior misdeed, were using Daphne for her prowess as a social media influencer. Through the journey of discovery, Daphne comes to understand more about Drue and sees that a kinder, more down to earth side of her was beginning to emerge from her glossy exterior. Drue's home life was never warm and fuzzy like Daphne's.
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LibraryThing member bookwyrmm
I was expecting a good beach read, but this was so much more.
LibraryThing member jovemako
While I enjoyed it (I typically enjoy Jennifer Weiner as an author), this was just ok. The parts of the ending were simultaneously surprising and expected. It also felt a little rushed in the last two chapters.

Otherwise a decent pool or bath read.
LibraryThing member pegmcdaniel
My book log tells me that I've read four other novels by Jennifer Weiner. This time I was looking for a book that was light, chick-lit, happy, maybe a "beach" read. The first half of this novel was just that, then BAM! Right in the middle, there is a twist and it suddenly becomes a mystery. I
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purposely had not read any reviews and I am glad I didn't.

The location is Cape Cod, in June, with preparations being made for a summer society wedding between the daughter of a wealthy business owner and a TV celebrity. The protagonist is the maid-of-honor, Daphne, whose weight has always been a problem for her. She has no self-esteem and her weight alone could have been a "character" since it was mentioned constantly throughout the novel. There are several side stories which were just okay but all tied into the premise.

During the second half, the mystery part, I found it unrealistic to have such a bumbling police detective that Daphne and two friends had to take over the investigation.

This is not easy to review because of spoilers. You will read about the many sides of friendships, family feuds, and forgiveness. There are many lessons to be learned about the pitfalls of on-line living. Very little, if any, bad language which was refreshing. But there is a sex scene, in a hot tub no less, that certainly was not necessary. Sex can be implicated but these details were over-the-top.
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LibraryThing member etxgardener
Weiner’s Mrs. Everything was one of my top 10 books for 2019 so when this book came up as an audio book on sale, I grabbed it. What a mistake! I guess th3e author has a contract demanding a book a year, because with this volume she’s retreated from writing for grown-ups and gives us a story
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full of vapid characters, an unbelievable plot, and way too much product placement.

The heroine, Daphne Berg, is a plus sized Instagram influencer putting up a brave face of being comfortable with her body, yet full of self-loathing. She’s had a co-dependent friendship with beautiful and wealthy Drue Cavanaugh since high school. A fight during their college years separated the two young women who haven’t spoken in years. Yet when Drue reappears and asks Daphne to be the maid of honor in her wedding she gratefully accepts. Seriously? Then throw in a murder, a hunky guy who falls for Daphne and a dysfunctional family and you have the makings of a mess. Tis is ten hours of my life I’ll never get back.
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LibraryThing member froxgirl
Not a big diversion, just okay.
LibraryThing member gpangel
Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner is a 2020 Atria Books publication.

A Big Summer Hit!!

A nasty fight between Daphne and her best friend, Drue, leads to a six- year estrangement. Daphne is now a plus-size Instagram influencer and has come a long way since her days of hero worshipping her rich and
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glamourous friend.

But, when Drue comes barreling back into her life, begging her to be the maid of honor at her wedding, Daphne, against her better judgement, decides to give Drue on more chance.

Besides, she’s been invited to Cape Cod for a wedding party, which could give her online presence a major boost, and there is sure to be a few eligible men in attendance, too.

Little did she know that the weekend events would change her entire perspective on many things, including family and friendship.

This is my first book by this author- though I have had a few of her books on Kindle for a while now. This one got some buzz last summer-but the wait list at the library was so long, I put it on a back burner for a while. Now, a year later, I’m finally getting around to reading it.

This book took me a little by surprise. I do remember reading some reviews for the book- after all, that is what convinced me to add the book in the first place, but I didn’t refresh my memory before I started reading. It was like going in a blind- and it worked out perfectly.

Things were going along pretty much as I expected, and I was enjoying the book well enough. I appreciated the way the plot exposed the mindset of reality shows/ social media/ influencers/ and how Daphne was seeing Drue through a more mature lens.

Then the story took a dark turn I didn’t see coming- and suddenly I was no longer reading a chick-lit novel or contemporary fiction- I was reading a mystery/thriller too! Awesome!! What a great combination- Almost-like romantic suspense got a refreshing reboot!

I loved how Daphne’s character grew, the way she learned to appreciate how rich she really was, how grateful she was for all the blessings she had overlooked. She saw her own flaws, the things she took for granted, and came away with a new outlook on life.

While I would say I’m probably a little older than the targeted audience for this one- I really liked the book and will definitely read more books by this author!

*Note: Content advisory- I have some online book pals who, like me, prefer the sensual scenes remain behind a closed door- So beware- this novel has some explicit sex scenes- one that seemed to go on forever- especially since I was listening to the audio version at the time and couldn’t just skip past it as I would if reading on my Kindle. I personally don’t feel the added details were necessary to the plot, but I suppose that’s a matter of taste. Just giving you a heads up.
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LibraryThing member sunshine608
I was provided with an ARC of this title by Netgalley/The Publisher in Exchange for my honest review
Big Summer is the perfect Summer read. Equal parts mystery and women's fiction it gives a glimpse into several worlds from the influencer world, to the mega rich all while keeping a mostly down to
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earth protagonist that is easy to relate to and feels like a long lost friend. I am not one for mysteries ( aside from Sue Grafton novels RIP) but I really enjoyed how Weiner incorporated that element. There were times when I felt like, why are they chasing the "killer", instead of letting the police do its work but their chase added some depth to the story and characters and it didn't overshadow the other part of the story. This is one of those quintessential Beach reads for 2020. I couldn't put it down and finished it within 48 hours, staying up late to get to the end.
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LibraryThing member alanna1122
This is definitely a good summer read. It moves pretty quickly and has a light tone.
I went into not reading the back of it or anything so I was stunned when it became a mystery! I don't know when I have been as surprised about the turn in genre as in this book - I really had a preconceived idea of
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what I was in for. That being said - it was handled quite lightly and it was a very good summer read. I didn't find it page turning though and it took me a lot longer to read it than I would have suspected. All and all - would definitely recommend to pack on a vacation - or for a plane ride.
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