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Book club questions for Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner breaks down all the key themes and events in this summer read. There will be spoilers so for more context about the story, check out my spoiler-free review.
I have to say Big Summer took an unexpected turn for me! I remember going in that I read there is a bit of a mystery component to it but I definitely did not expect that. So you know how the story starts off with the young mother Christian and her son (who we find out later is Nick)? Weiner wrote about Christina: “her story was almost at its end, but, that night, she had no idea.” I thought that Drue’s father had something to do with the murder of Christina and that was going to be the mystery. Nope, that did not happen.
But I liked the twist—the story really could have fallen into somewhat of a generic but still fairly entertaining territory. However, (SPOILER!) killing off the bride and having the protagonist work to solve it, was a really interesting development. Curious what you all thought about it!
Check out this video where Jennifer Weiner talks about how Instagram influenced this novel and what she hopes are some of the key takeaways:
Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.
Drue was always the one who had everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friend’s siren song.
A sparkling novel about the complexities of female relationships, the pitfalls of living out loud and online, and the resilience of the human heart, Big Summer is a witty, moving story about family, friendship, and figuring out what matters most.
Book Club Questions for Big Summer
- The story starts off with a mysterious tone as I mentioned above with the murder of Christina who we eventually learn is Nick’s mother. Why do you think Jennifer Weiner started the book of this way? Do you think she wanted to set the mystery tone early on?
- It’s interesting in the video that Jennifer says she didn’t plan for there to be a murder mystery. Let’s speculate why she went that way with the story. Did you like that shift in tone? Why or why not?
- Our introduction to Daphne, a plus-size influencer, is when she’s meeting with Leela, a woman in charge of a clothing line that Daphne wants to represent. First, what were your initial impressions of Daphne?
- Looking back did you sense there was anything off about Leela in this initial meeting?
- Why do you think Daphne decided to become an influencer? What do you think about influencer culture in general? Do you follow any?
- What are you thoughts about Instagram vs. reality? It seems people try to pretend and craft the perfect image, like Drue, but reality is quite often very different.
- Let’s talk about Drue and Daphne’s friendship. Do you believe it was ever authentic or do you think Drue simply continued to use Daphne up until her death?
- We learn what eventually drove the two apart—after Daphne tells off a jerk guy that Drue tried to set her up with, Drue is very cruel to Daphne. Let’s talk about this scene.
- Drue comes back to Daphne’s life and begs her to be in the wedding and eventually she agrees. Why was Daphne so drawn to Drue? Did she make a mistake by allowing Drue to reenter her life?
- Let’s talk about Daphne’s first meeting and night with Nick.
- The story’s tone shifts when Daphne finds Drue dead on her wedding day. In then turns into a murder mystery about who killed Drue. Who did you suspect did it?
- As Daphne, Nick and Darshi work to find out Drue’s killer and clear Daphne and Nick’s names, Daphne discovers a lot about her deceased friend. That Drue was unhappy, her family was running out of money and she wasn’t in love with her reality TV show fiancé/husband. And it turns out she was in love with Aditya, a kind but sloppy man—a complete surprise to the rest of the crew. Let’s discuss all these revelations about Drue.
- As Daphne learns more about Drue, she begins to realize that her admiration of Drue wasn’t warranted and in fact, it seems Drue was envious of her in many ways. Let’s talk about it.
- What did you think about the reveal of Drue’s killer?
- The story ends on a happy note with Daphne accepting who she is and what she has in life, including Nick. Let’s talk about what next for Daphne.
- Have you read other books by Jennifer Weiner? How did this one compared to those?
What to Read Next
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for Big Summer! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
If you haven’t read Mrs. Everything yet, I highly recommend it! The story is long but it’s worth it.
Do we change or does the world change us?
Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.
Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.
But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?
You can order the book on Amazon here. Check out my book club questions here.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
If you’re looking for another summer-type story, check out Beach Read by Emily Henry!
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They’re polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
You can order the book on Amazon here. Check out my book club questions here.