04 Sep / Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner [in Booklist]
If the narrator sounds immediately familiar, here’s why: Danielle Macdonald played Willowdean Dickson in the popular Netflix adaptation of Julie Murphy’s bestselling Dumplin’. Making her narrator debut in Jennifer Weiner’s plus-size empowering latest, Macdonald is so convincing that once listeners have begun the story, stopping before the end isn’t really an option.
Once upon a time, Daphne and Drue were best – albeit hardly equal – friends. Fat (her word), trusting, scholarship-student Daphne could never say no to wealthy, gorgeous, mean-girl-manipulative Drue … until Daphne does, finally claiming her voice in a taking-back-her-agency-video that goes viral. Seven years after severing their toxic relationship, Daphne’s content: she’s a body-positivity Instagram influencer, she nannies, and she sells her crafty art. And then Drue reappears, as dazzling as ever,
asking begging Daphne to be her maid-of-honor (Drue has no other friends) in what promises to be the social-media-takeover wedding of the year.
Surprise! Murder and mayhem ensue.
Frothy entertainment notwithstanding, insidious white privilege is impossible to ignore here. Three notable characters of color populate the pale cast, each more cringe-inducing than the last: not-friend Darshi is disdained and discarded; nerdy Aditya isn’t fit to be seen in public; the villain has to be the child of model-minority immigrants whose life Drue so glibly stole. Despite Macdonald’s due applause, Weiner’s unintended racism ultimately feels irresponsible.