Weiner has made a major literary career out of writing engrossing popular novels that take women seriously ... That Summer is more explicitly a political novel than most in that its plot is informed by the rise of the #MeToo movement and the seismic shift in attitudes toward men ... One of Weiner’s signature strengths as a writer is her ability to realistically depict how people change in body and soul ... Weiner writes incisively, yet with restraint, about Diana’s incremental process of reclaiming some measure of peace ... a compelling, nuanced novel about the long, terrible aftermath of sexual assault and the things that can be stolen from women that can never be fully restored. But, because it’s a Jennifer Weiner novel, it’s no polemic. It’s empowering in its own way. Weiner seems to steadfastly believe in the saving grace of humor, the ability of time to open up possibilities and the strength of female friendship. Me, too.
Spurred on by the #MeToo movement, the characters explore the weight that victims of sexual assault carry, and the damage left in the wake of unchecked privilege. But there is also a warmth to the novel, fueled by the Cape Cod setting and deft characterization. Daisy is a classic Weiner heroine, an underappreciated and unconfident woman who grows wings; Beatrice is endearingly strong-willed; and Diana is heartbreakingly sympathetic. Weiner’s storytelling skill is such that she paints an uncompromising, complicated portrait of the insidious dangers of the patriarchy that is also a lot of fun to read.
Weiner’s ability to take a complex, painful situation and spin it into an engaging, thoughtful story about women’s inner lives is showcased throughout this novel. The beautiful beachside settings and aspirational lifestyles that women’s fiction readers gravitate toward are on full display, but the depth of the story is what shines. A likely summer blockbuster, this will have readers looking forward to the third volume in trilogy.
... emotionally charged ... Weiner’s writing is infused with evocative depictions of place, particularly year-round scenes on the Cape. Some villains are painted with overly broad strokes, and while the plot hinges on more than one coincidence, the account of a woman on a deferred quest, nearly three decades after an assault, feels emotionally honest. Weiner’s legions of fans will applaud this emotionally affecting and often surprising story.
The strongest character in this book has little to do with the main plot—it's Daisy's rebel daughter, Beatrice, who creates some comic relief with her irritated thoughts and dead-mouse taxidermy projects ... Fans will enjoy references to the murder plot of Weiner's previous novel, Big Summer (2020), and sprinklings of Weiner's signature descriptions of food and cooking. But the stereotyped characters, the contrived morality-tale plot, and the amount of preaching are not worthy of this author ... Socialist realism for the #MeToo era.