By Jennifer Weiner. (Atria, 368 pages, $28.)
“Big Summer,” Jennifer Weiner’s big summer book, is a hugely entertaining mashup of a beach read / murder mystery / rich-people’s-lives-porn / romance. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s sprawling and fun, so read and enjoy and just don’t try to think about it too much.
Daphne, the narrator, is a big, earnest, likable 20-something who makes a tenuous living as an influencer, getting clothing and makeup for free and then posting pictures of herself on Instagram. It’s a constant hustle, and as a big gal she has all the appropriate hashtags down cold: #plussizestyle and #celebratemysize and #mybodyisnotanapology.
It has taken her a long time to find peace with her size, and so when Drue, the original Mean Girl from her school days, reaches out to ask if Daphne will be in her wedding, it brings back all those bad memories and insecurities. But Drue, as a friend notes, has always been Daphne’s “kryptonite” — Daphne is drawn to her beauty, her wealth, the effortless way she floats through life and charms everyone around her. And so she says yes.
In “Big Summer” you get glimpses into high fashion and pricey beach homes and rich lifestyles, and you get to watch a fake-it-till-you-make-it insecure protagonist slowly learn how to stop faking it and actually make it.
There are plenty of surprises, including the identity of the murderer. (You will never figure it out. There are no clues.) “Big Summer” is the very essence of the big summer novel. Forget about the world for a while, and have some fun.