I have to give this three stars, because Jennifer Weiner is a wonderful, talented writer, even when the story itself is awful, as this one was.
I'm a fan. I loved Mrs. Everything and In Her Shoes and others. But it's like there are TWO Jennifer Weiners. One writes thought provoking books with wonderful, deep characters that you wish you knew and find yourself rooting for throughout the novel. The other writes forced, contrived books with shallow characters you hate and all seem to feature the same exact whiny, weight obsessed perennial victim as the heroine, a bitter version of Cannie Shapiro from Good in Bed. The bitter version pops up in CERTAIN GIRLS and continuously creeps into her work.
I suspect Jennifer Weiner drew heavily on her own experiences as single and dating as an overweight woman in her twenties. What she fails to consider was that was back in the nineties, when the "waif" look was in and everyone thought anorexic starved Kate Moss was hot. Daphne, her main character, would not had been as vilified and shunned and tortured for being overweight in this day and age, when most of the citizens of the US are overweight and the curvy look is in. The single scene is much more flexible than it once was. Most men do not want or expect to date a skeletal woman. That was the first major flaw in the book-she was putting nineties attitudes on people who live in 2020.
Another issue I had, as a native of Boston, was how she endlessly mocked the locals' accents when her character was in Cape Cod. A single mention would have been enough. She brought it up so many times it was absolutely obnoxious. We get it. People who live on Cape Cod have accents. Get over it.
Then we have some completely unrealistic developments in the book that do not make logical sense. For instance...*minor spoiler* her love interest vanishes after their night together. She finds him SLEEPING IN A CRAWLSPACE in the house her friend rented for the wedding. His reasons for doing this make absolutely zero sense and are indicative of the guy being absolutely nuts, as is his giving the name of a Stephen King character to her when he initially meets her... because someone at the wedding might recognize his name as being the son of a woman murdered in the area, even though he changed his name after that happened. Um. WHAT??? And it is never explained WHY he used the name of the character from The Stand, either. Favorite book? It's like Weiner meant to explain it but forgot in her rush to publication.
But Daphne accepts all this craziness and it's wonderful, because he's hot! She herself bemoans being judged by her appearance, but she rhapsodizes about how hot he is, his six pack abs, etc... so I'm not sure what the message is supposed to be here. It's mixed. Either looks matter or they don't. It's hard to say looks SHOULDN'T matter when you fall in love with a crazy man who lies just because he happens to be hot. To make this Nick character even harder to swallow, he has a dialogue with Daphne towards the end of the book that turns into a rant about the pitfalls of social media that is clearly a reflection of the author's own thoughts. Moralizing never goes over well, no matter which character you have mouth the words.
I wound up skimming at the 85% mark just because I wanted it to end already but after reading so far I needed to find out who the murderer was. And of course, that turned out to be just as ridiculous, illogical and implausible as the rest of the book.
Weiner is a fantastic writer when she tells a character's story, like she did in Mrs. Everything. When she inserts HERSELF, her own experiences and beliefs into the book, it's just a mess. It's like she's trying too hard or something. The tip off that this is going to be one of THOSE books is when there's an overweight heroine who has a cute dog. As soon as those two elements appear, you know you have another book featuring bitter Cannie Shapiro on your hands.