I read these three books over the past month or so. There is a common thread of female strength, accomplishing self-love, and introspection in all of them. Meanwhile, they are all very different in their plot lines! They are here in one post considering so much time has passed since reading the first title and it makes the most sense for me to keep them together.
Luster by Raven Leilani is a book I saw on a list of top new reads. Unfortunately, my memory is a bit foggy on this one since it is my earliest read of this set.
Edie is a black woman in her early twenties who is trying to figure it all out. She ends up involved with a married, white man (not the first time), but this experience is much different. After being discovered in the man’s home, she slowly becomes part of his household. She loses her job and her apartment and is scooped up by his wife. She moves in to their home while he is away on business, and begins building relationships with his wife and adopted daughter. Throughout this very odd experience, Edie is trying to reconcile who she is and what she wants to do with her life. Her mother’s artistic talents are in her, but she struggles to let them take over.
There are so many other nuances to this book. It’s definitely a unique voice and plot about people and their eccentricities.
Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing by Allison Winn Scotch is Cleo’s story of righting wrongs. She is considering a run for governor (I think??? I finished it several weeks ago). Cleo is an extremely driven woman, with a strong work ethic while also raising her teenage son as a single mom.
A former high school friend decides to make a public admonition against her in an attempt to tarnish her campaign. Cleo and her good friend/adviser decide she should publicly address the accusation to make a point of showing her humanity to gain votes. They travel back to her hometown in Oregon so that she can apologize to her former friend and set the record straight. Doing so does not result in forgiveness, but it does bring Cleo back to her roots. She realizes how much she has in common with her dad, including keeping a lengthy list of regrets. She begins tackling many of these regrets, while acknowledging her own truths and those that affect her son.
Similar to Luster, this book becomes a journey of self-discovery while also affirming her role as a political figure.
Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner is my most recent read, so it is freshest in my mind. Daphne is a plus-size social media influencer. She built her following and her brand after a potentially humiliating experience went viral. The terrible experience was the breaking point of her friendship with the very beautiful and wealthy Drue Lathrop. Drue was supposed to be her friend, but she was far from kind.
Everything is going along well for Daphne, until Drue suddenly seeks her out.
Drue is planning a very public, expensive wedding at the Cape. She asks for Daphne’s forgiveness and for her to be one of her bridesmaids. Daphne goes along with it, knowing that it will help her with the new fashion deal she is publicizing. Their friendship seems to be rekindling as the wedding draws closer. The weekend has the potential to be amazing, until Daphne finds Drue dead the morning of her wedding day.
Daphne works with her close friend Darshi and her new friend Nick to uncover the murderer. This is important considering she appears to be a possible suspect. Their sleuthing uncovers unexpected information, while also reminding Daphne that perfection is often an illusion.
This is a book that perfectly fits the beach read category.