REVIEW: THAT SUMMER, BY JENNIFER WEINER

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.

curl up and read thoughts

 

As we follow the tale of two women named Diana, That Summer takes us back and forth in time. Something happened to fifteen-year-old Diana on the Outer Cape, but we don’t discover the details until much later.

Flipping between the present and those past events, we begin to finally understand what happened back then…and what is motivating one Diana in the present day.

As the events come together in the present, filling in the blanks from the past, we are in another #MeToo situation that will suddenly change directions. Will the two Dianas find solutions to the choices of the past and realize what is happening between them now? Meanwhile, “the entire country is in the midst of facing the wreckage of decades of sexual harassment and sexual assault.” Is it a time of reckoning, an inflection point?

As Daisy reflects on her life, her daughter Beatrice reminds her of snippets of the play The Doll’s House, and she begins to change how she views her world and her husband. She can now turn her perspective onto that summer and what happened to the other Diana.

I loved this story, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen.

***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley

 

REVIEW: TAKE IT BACK, BY KIA ABDULLAH

One victim.
Four accused.
Who is telling the truth?

Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a brilliant legal career. But her decisions came at a high cost, and now, battling her own demons, she has exchanged her high profile career for a job at a sexual assault center, helping victims who need her the most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.

When Jodie, a sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, accuses four boys in her class of an unthinkable crime, the community is torn apart. After all, these four teenage defendants are from hard-working immigrant families and they all have proven alibis. Even Jodie’s best friend doesn’t believe her.

But Zara does—and she is determined to fight for Jodie—to find the truth in the face of public outcry. And as issues of sex, race and social justice collide, the most explosive criminal trial of the year builds to a shocking conclusion.

Take It Back sums up the complexities of truth and lies, bigotry, and fighting for right against the divisions in society.

From the beginning, I was caught up in Zara’s role as an advocate for women victimized by men, but also by the world in which they live.

Jodie was a character difficult to relate to, as there were so many little tells along the way. Was she bending the truth? Did she have a deeper psychological need that would alter the course of events?

Then, just as I thought that I knew the answers, everything spun in a whole new direction. An engaging story that kept me intrigued until the end, this one earned 4.5 stars.

***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.