Daphne Berg certainly knows how to turn tragedy into triumph. But it hasn’t been easy, nor has it come without a price. After being fat-shamed by her former best friend, Drue, at a club, Daphne finally stands up for herself. Her bold declaration goes viral and launches her career as a social media influencer. Now designers want her to wear their cloths and companies are clamoring for her to sponsor their products including her dog Bingo who’s become his own social media mogul. It’s a life she’s always dreamed of. That is until her friend Drue re-enters her life and begs for forgiveness. Despite the rich, spoiled, beautiful Drue’s mean-girl ways, Daphne caves and accepts the opportunity to be one of her bridesmaids in her summer wedding.
Daphne is in awe of Drue’s elaborate Cape Cod wedding, boasting the private residences for the wedding party, silk rugs on the beach, three custom wedding dresses, and the sumptuous top tier catering and branded swag. But on the eve of her nuptials, Drue’s philandering father makes a scene about the extravagance causing Drue to flee the festivities. Daphne rushes to comfort her, even abandoning the dreamy guest, Nick, she’d been getting to know. When Drue insists she’s fine, Daphne reconnects with Nick for a magical night. The next morning, she awakes to discover Nick has disappeared without a trace, Drue is found face down in the hot tub and Daphne was the last person to see her alive.
This latest release from best-selling author Jennifer Weiner checks all the marks for a great summer read.
Sure, it’s a mystery, but the real storyline is woven in the precarious relationship between two friends who have been hurt deeply. What I found incredibly intriguing is that both Daphne and Drue have deeply rooted emotional baggage guiding their life choices with a surprisingly similar objective—acceptance. Their shared cry for righting past wrongs is something you can easily identify with, despite the fact that they go about it in vastly different ways. And of course, you mourn the fact that these troubled women were robbed of the chance to find true peace in their friendship.
Still, Daphne rises as the true heroine, growing stronger with every choice she makes, pushing through her insecurities to find resolution and justice for her friend. All women can identify with her struggle to find confidence and compassion while being reproached at every turn. The persona thrust upon her as she blossomed online of a bold and sassy “girl boss” is one she desperately tries to live up to, though each day she battles her insecurities. But the reader quickly discerns it’s less about the girl in the posts and more about the one behind them that holds the appeal. This becomes clear as she continually puts others’ needs above her own. Especially when she’s challenged by a young teen follower to share her secret of courage. That lone query provides Daphne the opportunity to be transparent and honest with herself and her fans. And when she courageously steps out behind the branding, the true fearless woman emerges.
Cover Image Courtesy of Atria Books Simon & Schuster