Big Summer Book Review
Although sunny beach days are far behind us at this point, it is safe to say that we could all benefit from some lighter material to temporarily distract us from all of the distressing news that we are currently taking in. For the past eight months, books have provided me with an escape from all of the uncertainty that I have been feeling amidst a global pandemic and navigating the college process.
One of my favorite books that I read during quarantine was Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner. What I initially thought would be a breezy, fun read soon turned into a witty exploration of female friendships, tragedy, and love.
The book’s protagonist, Daphne Berg, is a self-proclaimed “plus-sized influencer” who has amassed an enviable Instagram following. Much of her day is spent finding instagrammable content, from carefully-curated outfits to photos of her adorable dog, Bingo.
Daphne’s career as an influencer starts to pay off when she is asked to model social media-star Leila Thakoon’s clothing. Everything is looking up for her until she is hit with an unexpected request: to be the maid of honor at her ex-best friend, Drue Cavanaugh’s wedding. Against her better judgment and ignoring her parents’ and roommate’s discouragement, Daphne agrees.
The multi-million dollar wedding and fabulously over-the-top rehearsal dinner is everything that Drue could have ever imagined. A celebration characterized by stars and champagne soon turns sinister when Drue is found dead the next morning.
My expectation of this book was nowhere near the reality. The beginning was a bit slow since the majority was background information and setting the scene of Daphne’s life. To me, Daphne was meant to serve as proof that “ordinary”, nice girls can garner both inspiration and aspiration from those around them. She proves that she is anything but ordinary when she and her friends set out to determine what exactly happened to Drue the morning of her wedding.
Drue was more complex to figure out, as there were not many opportunities to get to know her before her untimely and disturbing death. Underneath her doll-like, untouchable exterior was a real, fragile person craving the genuine human connection that her life lacked.
The complexity of female friendships was a main theme that was examined throughout this book. Despite Drue’s cruel treatment of Daphne, Daphne felt an unbreakable connection to her and made it her mission to discover the truth about Drue’s life and death. Although Big Summer was not the mindless beach read that I had made it out to be, it certainly took my mind off of isolation with its gripping plot and interesting characters. I learned that all of the seemingly unnecessary details were in fact necessary to understand the shocking ending of the book and all of the unexpected twists along the way. I have and will continue to recommend this book to everyone who enjoys mystery, romance, and honest characters who you can root for.