Friday, September 22, 2023

Book Review: The Breakaway by Jennifer Weiner

Pages: 400
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: August 29, 2023
Publisher: Atria
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Big Summer
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "
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 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."
Abby Stern has spent most of her childhood ashamed of how she looks, especially since her fit mother sent her away to a weight loss camp every summer. Abby could never really be the person that her mother wanted her to be and that was ok for Abby because she had the solace of her bike. Abby adores cycling, and fifteen years later has the chance to lead a cycling trip through New York. This is a great opportunity for Abby to clear her head. Also, things have started to get serious with her boyfriend, Mark, and while he seems perfect on paper, something is holding her back from taking the next step. She should like him - he's a Jewish doctor, a former overweight camper at the weight loss camp Abby attended, but he doesn't enjoy cycling and doesn't eat sugar. Just when Abby gears up for a relaxing cycling trip, there are two unexpected participants: her one-night stand from many years ago and her mother! Cue the drama. Abby had a one-night stand with Sebastian, who is perfect and likes her for who she is, except he is a known player and some of his antics have gone viral. As the trip continues, Abby realizes they still have chemistry. Also, the more time she spends with her mom, the more honest they both get about their relationship. Jennifer Weiner's The Breakaway is a quintessential women's fiction and includes many things I enjoyed including a romance, female empowerment, and messages of body positivity.

While I enjoyed Abby's journey both physically and emotionally in The Breakaway, there were some plot holes that I felt could have been fleshed out a bit more, especially between Abby and her mother. On the other hand, Abby's relationship with Sebastian is one of the best parts of the novel, especially if you enjoy a slow burn. I do wish she would have been more honest with Mark though, so if cheating is a trigger for you, be forewarned. I also enjoyed Weiner's overall messages about being in charge of a person's body, women's rights, and positive body image, but at times it got a little preachy. Lastly, I really can't relate to Abby's relationship with food, which at times was a bit unhealthy if you ask me, so I struggled there, mostly because I have dietary restrictions myself, so eating for pleasure isn't always an option. Shaming people who eat healthy is just as bad as making overweight people feel less than, so I had an issue with that aspect of the novel. Also, at some point, I think it's okay to admit that being overweight isn't the healthiest version of yourself, no matter how "strong" you think you are. So, I had a hard time with that aspect of the novel.

The details of the bike trip were superb in The Breakaway. I love how it juxtaposed Abby's emotional journey with her biking journey, as well when it came to figuring out her romantic life and her relationship with her mother. I am not a cyclist, but I could appreciate all the details that go into a trip like this as well as the beautiful New York scenery. Bikers will especially love this aspect of the novel as Weiner, an avid cyclist, truly brought this part of the story to life.

While The Breakaway wasn't my favorite of Weiner's novels, I thought it was a solid novel for fans of women's fiction and a great way to end the summer season. Have you read The Breakaway? Are you a fan of Jennifer Weiner? Let me know in the comments below.



  1. I haven't read Weiner in awhile - I appreciated that most of her heroines were more plus size. It definitely made them more relatable to me. But, I can understand your issues here and I probably would have had the same ones. I love that you point out that food shaming can go both ways - shaming people for eating healthy, too!

    1. Yes! I love that she has plus-size heroines. We need more of that! I just wish the points were less preachy and judgy. I could be overly sensitive to this though due to my food restrictions. If you read it, you'll have to let me know what you think. Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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