Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Book Review and Giveaway: That a special treat!

By Melissa Amster

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. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

I have always been a fan of Jennifer Weiner's writing, so I go into her novels expecting something great. With That Summer, I was, once again, not disappointed by my expectations.

The story is well told and interesting throughout. I liked both Daisy and Diana, but I really liked seeing Diana's story progress through the years. While foreshadowing made the story feel predictable in parts, I also wanted to see how things would go from point A to point B and what the outcome would be. I liked seeing Beatrice's perspective, as well. Her fashion choices sounded so creative. Jennifer has a good grasp of the teenage point-of-view and should try her hand at a young adult novel sometime. (I know she has written middle grade novels.) 

The food descriptions made me hungry and Jennifer, as usual, wrote a really steamy bedroom scene that I enjoyed. I felt like there were too many location descriptions though. A large amount of the story was telling us what a room looked like. I also didn't feel like Hal's perspective was necessary and it didn't make him a sympathetic character. 

What I liked the most was that this novel covered a relevant topic in a sensitive and thoughtful way. I like how Jennifer weaved in some current events without naming names. 

There's a spoiler for Big Summer toward the beginning of this novel, so be sure to read that one first! Afterward, you'll want to devour this one for sure!

Movie casting ideas:
Daisy: Zoe Kazan
Diana (present): Elizabeth Berkley
Diana (past): Elizabeth Lail
Hal: Michael Vartan
Beatrice: Jessica Cherniak
Michael (past): Paul Walter Hauser
Michael (present): John DiMaggio

Thanks to Atria for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have one print copy to give away! Atria has also coordinated an interview between Jennifer and myself! I am excited to share it here. Her answers are so much fun, so I hope you will enjoy them too. 

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
Years ago, a friend was in the hospital with her mother, who was dying. She was reading one of my books and she said, “It was just like having you there with me, talking to me.” Which I am choosing to take as a compliment!
What was the biggest reward and biggest challenge with writing That Summer?
The biggest challenge was writing a book in the midst of the uncertainty of the pandemic. There was a LOT of temptation to procrastinate – to say, “no one knows what’s going to happen or how long this will last so I might as well just goof off for a few days (weeks, months).” But focusing on the book meant I couldn’t be anxious, so I’m glad I was able to make myself get to work, which led to the reward: holding a finished book in my hands! That’s always the best feeling the world.
What is something you learned about yourself during the pandemic?
I’ve been joking that I’ve been in training my whole life for what we went through the last year. I already work at home, I’ve already got a wardrobe full of comfortable and forgiving garments, and I already enjoy staying home much more than I do going out. I thought that there was nothing about the world that I’d miss (other than not being able to see my friends, or go to a yoga class), but what I learned is that, as exhausting as book tours can be, I really miss them. I miss making those connections, and meeting my readers face to face. I am so looking forward to doing them again, in person, soon!
What is the last thing you had a good laugh about?
My husband and I have been working our way through Prestige TV during the pandemic. We watched Mad Men and Friday Night Lights and we’re now on The Americans. In the second season, there’s a storyline involving a kidnapped Mossad agent who our heroes are holding hostage. The man is tied up with his hands handcuffed behind him, and he says, “I need to use the toilet.” (In cruder terms than that). There was a lot of setup involving getting the guy to the bathroom, and my husband and I start speculating that he’s going to try to escape. Sure enough, the agent asks his captor for help wiping, and then clubs him over the head and almost gets away. I said, “I bet they teach agents what to do if they’re in this situation.” Then I said, “And I bet they call the move…the Number Two.”

 Photo by Andrea Cipriani Mecchi
Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of eighteen books, including Good in Bed, That Summer, and an essay collection, Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. A graduate of Princeton University and a frequent contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at, @jenniferweiner on Facebook and Twitter and @jenniferweinerwrites on Instagram. 

Thanks to Jennifer for chatting with us and again to Atria for coordinating the interview and sharing her book with our readers.

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Nina said...

I met my best friend in middle school because we found out that my aunt had randomly babysat her as a kid!

Pamela said...

I used to collect dolls and bought one on Ebay. When it was time to send payment for my purchase, I found out that the seller was currently living in the same town I grew up in. I had moved many states away at that point. I had not know her when I lived there as she was a full 20 twenty years older. We became extremely close and would chat on the phone several times a week. Her children were grown and mine were very small, and she gave me some of the best mothering advice I have ever had.

Carla S. said...

I became great friends with the ex-wife of a former co-worker when I later joined the company where she worked. I never put two and two together that she was the jilted ex even though they had the same last name. She and I are still great friends more than two decades later.

Melissa said...

Interestingly enough, I once became friends with someone I met on a plane!

traveler said...

We met a a gym near our house and became close friends.

Kathylama said...

Now I have to watch "The Americans"!

Jess said...

I met one of my best friends at speed dating. The guys were duds but we have been friends for almost 15 years and are both married with kids

Suburban prep said...

I was at the local exercise club and I was knitting while I was also on the recumbant bike. I was also watching tv and a commercial came on--it was about a local hospital and a cancer survior story. The cancer survior--just happened to be my sister. A woman got on the bike next to mine and she said she knit but did not knit while on the bike. She made a comment that her sister had had cancer as well. I said that the woman in that commercial was my sister. We became friends in that manner. She is a dear friend.

Peggy Russo said...

I met my best friend when I hung a banner on the side of my house announcing the birth of my twins. She was the Vice President of our local Mothers of Twins club and happened to drive by and see my banner. She knew one of my neighbors and got my contact info and called to invite me to a club meeting. We became fast friends on the drive to my first meeting and have been besties for 32 years.

Jeanne said...

I met my dearest friend, Ann, in Brother Paschal’s Latin class our sophomore year of high school. Then all the mischief began! 😂

Cherisse said...

I met my girlfriend Dawn in Kindergarten, we were assigned a table and we have remained friends since.

dstoutholcomb said...

Meeting friends in online groups has led to great friendships.

Mary Preston said...

Nothing unusual - just through work.

diannekc said...

My BFF lives next door and I was recovering from surgery after they first moved in and one day I saw her cutting my grass. That was the start of a long friendship.

Anonymous said...

I met a friend thru a Grief Support Group. Thanks for your great generosity. Linda May

Toni Laliberte said...

My best friend and I met because our mothers were friends. Funny thing was I had seen her around school and didn't like her. Lol! After we started talking, we hit it off and have been friends for over 35 years.

jpetroroy said...

Probably on an old online message board!

Mary Patricia Bird said...

My best friend in high school and I had a love for television (the same shows), and a love for writing. We wrote together every time we were together, which was almost every day.

bn100 said...

the unusual

rubynreba said...

I met my very best friend when we were roommates at college.

Amber said...

I've met several amazing friends online through blogging and I think that's the most interesting way I've met someone!

Kelly Rodriguez said...

I met some amazing friends through Facebook book clubs.

♡♥♬ Carolsue ♡♥♬ said...

Not really very interesting, but I met one of my best friends my sophomore year
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