Big Summer, by Jennifer Weiner

I may have said this before but there is just nothing like a Jennifer Weiner novel, for me, when I want fiction that is not too demanding (i.e. not highbrow literary that makes me work when reading it) but at the same time is well written, polished, an absolute joy from start to finish and guaranteed, whatever dark places it goes to during the plot, to leave me feeling uplifted with a life-affirming ending.

Big Summer, one of my favourite Weiner books so far, was a very quick read. It starts as the light and engaging story of Daphne, a young woman in her late 20s who has carved out a career for herself as a plus-size Instagram influencer who posts about body positivity, self-esteem, crafts and her dog. After struggling as a plus-sized teen and young adult Daphne has gotten to a place where she’s pretty happy with herself and her life, when her best frenemy from high school, a rich girl named Drue who alternately took Daphne under her wing and bullied her, depending on teenaged Drue’s mood, waltzes back into her life. The two women have been estranged for several years when the story begins, but Drue, who is planning a huge society wedding to a reality-TV star, begs Daphne to forgive her and be her maid of honour.

The stage seems set for a warm-hearted story about growing up, self-esteem, friendship and the foibles of the filthy rich — when things suddenly take a very unexpected twist (no spoilers, I promise!) and a book that was enjoyable and fun suddenly becomes very hard to put down. I read this in less than 24 hours and fully enjoyed the ride.

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