Summer Reads: The Breakaway

This is part of my Summer Reads series where I’ll be sharing book recommendations –  a series of “not just cookbooks”.

Cover of The Breakaway by Jenifer Weiner.

A book that takes you from New York City to Niagara Falls by bicycle? Sounds like an excellent armchair summer read, right? Take that journey, add in some romance, some spice, some serious political issues, some family drama, friendship, and some hilarious moments and you’ve got Jennifer Weiner’s The Breakaway, releasing August 29th, 2023.

From the publisher:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner comes a warmhearted and empowering new novel about love, family, friendship, secrets, and a life-changing journey.

Thirty-three-year-old Abby Stern has made it to a happy place. True, she still has gig jobs instead of a career, and the apartment where she’s lived since college still looks like she’s just moved in. But she’s got good friends, her bike, and her bicycling club in Philadelphia. She’s at peace with her plus-size body—at least, most of the time—and she’s on track to marry Mark Medoff, her childhood summer sweetheart, a man she met at the weight-loss camp that her perpetually dieting mother forced her to attend. Fifteen years after her final summer at Camp Golden Hills, when Abby reconnects with a half-his-size Mark, it feels like the happy ending she’s always wanted.

Yet Abby can’t escape the feeling that some­thing isn’t right…or the memories of one thrilling night she spent with a man named Sebastian two years previously. When Abby gets a last-minute invi­tation to lead a cycling trip from NYC to Niagara Falls, she’s happy to have time away from Mark, a chance to reflect and make up her mind.

But things get complicated fast. First, Abby spots a familiar face in the group—Sebastian, the one-night stand she thought she’d never see again. Sebastian is a serial dater who lives a hundred miles away. In spite of their undeniable chemistry, Abby is determined to keep her distance. Then there’s a surprise last-minute addition to the trip: her mother, Eileen, the woman Abby blames for a lifetime of body shaming and insecurities she’s still trying to undo.

Over two weeks and more than seven hundred miles, strangers become friends, hidden truths come to light, a teenage girl with a secret unites the riders in unexpected ways…and Abby is forced to reconsider everything she believes about herself, her mother, and the nature of love.

This book was a roller coaster of a ride (sorry, couldn’t help myself!); on the surface, it’s part romance, part travelogue, but if you scratch that surface a bit, you’ll find a story of self-discovery and acceptance, feeling comfortable in one’s skin, reconciliation, and friendship (with a bonus nod to post-Roe United States in a side storyline).

I really enjoyed the travel aspect of this book – not just the voyage itself from New York to Niagara Falls, but also the group of people who formed Abby’s group. As a veteran of many group trips (not biking tours like this, but still…), I am always fascinated by group dynamics in these sorts of situations and enjoyed learning about the back stories of the characters and watching how they ended up interacting with each other. I did enjoy that Abby’s story was broken up by the other storylines as I feel a novel of this length might have been too much to just concentrate on the one main storyline (even though it moved back and forth in time, it would have been a lot of Abby!).

I loved the fact that the main character has a plus-sized body and how the story showed her being on the one hand comfortable in her skin, on the other, recovering from a lifetime of body-shaming. I felt this part was very realistically portrayed – the way women whose appearance is not socially “acceptable” for whatever reason will always struggle with self-esteem, no matter how “happy” or “successful” they appear. Abby’s story is so many people’s story and even though her actions sometimes make her not a very likeable character, her flaws felt endearing and I felt so much empathy for her.

This book was laugh-out-loud funny at times alongside parts that gave you pause and it was a page-turner in the best possible way – I read it in a couple of days. A perfect summer read!

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Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. I was not asked to review the book and the publisher has not reviewed this post prior to publication. Opinions are 100% my own.

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Cover of The Breakaway by Jenifer Weiner.Buy The Breakaway on Amazon (this affiliate link should bring you to the Amazon store in, or closest to, your country).

For free worldwide shipping, find The Breakaway on Blackwell’s.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  This post also contains a Blackwell’s affiliate link. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!

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Buy my books! In the French kitchen with kids and French Food for Everyone: le goûter  (after school snacks), le dîner (dinner) and le petit déjeuner (breakfast) are out now! Click here for details and how to order!

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