Review: That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

THAT SUMMER
Jennifer Weiner
Publication date: May 11, 2021
Genres: Adult Fiction, Women's Fiction, Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Atria Books
4 Stars

Daisy Shoemaker can’t sleep. With a thriving cooking business, full schedule of volunteer work, and a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she should be content. But her teenage daughter can be a handful; her husband can be distant, her work can feel trivial, and she has lots of acquaintances, but no real friends. Still, Daisy knows she’s got it good. So why is she up all night?

While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, she’s also receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, whose email address is just one punctuation mark away from her own. While Daisy’s driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings. While Daisy’s making dinner, Diana’s making plans to reorganize corporations. Diana’s glamorous, sophisticated, single-lady life is miles away from Daisy’s simpler existence. When an apology leads to an invitation, the two women meet and become friends. But, as they get closer, we learn that their connection was not completely accidental. Who IS this other woman, and what does she want with Daisy?

From the manicured Main Line of Philadelphia to the wild landscape of the Outer Cape, written with Jennifer Weiner’s signature wit and sharp observations, THAT SUMMER is a story about surviving our pasts, confronting our futures, and the sustaining bonds of friendship. 

Two women named Diana (although one goes by Daisy) met in the most unusual way: Daisy had been receiving emails meant for Diana and this eventually leads to an in-real-life meeting. A friendship formed and in Diana, Daisy admired all the things she might have been but was not – single, successful, career-focused, confident. Instead, Daisy quit college to marry a man thirteen years her senior, a man who offered stability and comfort (of the financial type, anyway). Now Daisy lived with a mild but persistent dissatisfaction with her life, questioned the state of her marriage, and dealt with her teenage daughter’s expulsion from boarding school. But Daisy and Diana’s meeting was no coincidence and the more time the two women spent together, and the closer Diana was drawn into Daisy’s life, it’s obvious there was more to her story.

The cover of the book belies the story inside because this is not a light and fluffy beach read, or a simple story of female friendship. Heavily influenced by the #MeToo movement, That Summer examines the aftermath of sexual assault and chronicles one woman’s journey for… truth? Revenge? Justice? There were times when I didn’t fully understand Diana’s end-game, even though her motivation was clear. And there were times when I wanted to shake Daisy and force her to use her voice and stand up for herself.  While the ending wasn’t fully satisfying for me (I wanted “real justice”, whatever that is), maybe the way Weiner portrayed it is a more likely scenario.

I was easily pulled into Daisy and Diana’s lives, and even that of Beatrice, Daisy’s teenage daughter who unapologetically marched to the beat of her own drum. Once again, I loved Weiner’s storytelling and her focus on the issues women face. I appreciated the varied responses to the #MeToo movement shown throughout the story – by different genders, generations, and social classes. While That Summer is not the beach read the cover implies, it is thought-provoking, emotional, and a truly worthwhile read.


Disclosure: I received a complimentary advance copy of this book for review. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review. I received no compensation and my review is voluntary.

THAT SUMMER
RELEASES ON MAY 11, 2021

YOU CAN FIND THAT SUMMER HERE:

18 comments

  1. This sounds like such a good read! I can't believe that I still have not read Jennifer Weiner's work. Great review

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    1. She is such a solid storyteller... I definitely recommend her!

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  2. Sounds so lovely! I've been meaning to read a book by this author.
    Genesis @ Whispering Chapters

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    1. When it comes to adult/women's fic, Weiner is one of my favorites.

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  3. YES totally agreed that I didn't understand what Diana was going for, I struggled to connect to Daisy and the end .... but I did enjoy the book. I have a review coming Monday + a secret spoiler discussion post up now if you want to come chat. I don't think Blogger will let me leave a link but you can use the search bar- I have MANY thoughts on this one.

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  4. My biggest cover complaints these days is when an illustrated cover misrepresents itself, like this one did. I would have expected a beach read. I'm glad you enjoyed it anyways.

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    1. I was just venting about that to Rachel. I am so ready for the illustrated cover trend to go the way of the dinosaurs.

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  5. This seems to be a new thing with Weiner. Making us think the story is one thing and it turns out to be another (like her last book, or maybe it's books with summer in the title, hmm?)

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    1. True, things took a turn in her last year's release, too (Big Summer).

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  6. I have an idea of what happened here, and I think I feel bad for Daisy if I'm correct. It's interesting that some of these covers that look light and fluffy are not-so-much. I've had a couple turn out that way. Glad you enjoyed the story!

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    1. Ugh, don't get me started, Rachel. LOL I am so over these illustrated covers. I get if it fits the book (cute rom-coms) but why does *everything* have to have an illustrated cover now? This trend needs to end.

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  7. Wow, I was not expecting some of that in your review!

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  8. I really enjoyed this book too. I agree with you about Diana and her endgame. There were times when I wasn't sure she even knew what her endgame was, which I found interesting.

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    1. Yeah, I'm wondering if that was a choice by Weiner... showing that even Diana wasn't certain of what she wanted to see happen.

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  9. Glad you enjoyed it even if the cover didn't fit the book (hate when they do that). I haven't yet read any of Weiner's books.

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    1. Yes! Misleading covers is such a pet peeve of mine.

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