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.
1. Abby Abby 1996 Are you ready?”
She wasn’t. But her sister and her brother had both learned how to ride their bikes before they turned six, and Abby was a few weeks away from her seventh birthday, and her dad had already spent twenty minutes taking the training wheels off her bike. She knew she had to try.
“Okay, I’m going to hold the seat until you get your balance, and then I’m going to let go.”
She nodded without turning from her perch on her bike’s seat. If she took her feet off the pedals she’d be able to touch the ground with her tiptoes. Still, she felt like she was in outer space, that the ground was a million miles away; that if she lost her balance she’d go plummeting to her doom.
“Okay. Here we go.”
She felt her daddy’s hand on the back of her seat, steadying the bike. She made herself push with her right foot. The pedals turned. The wheels spun.
“Here you go! Pedal, pedal, pedal! You’ve got it!” her daddy shouted.
And then he wasn’t there. It was just Abby, alone on her bike… and she wasn’t falling. She clutched the handlebars, not paying any attention to where the bike was headed, and she pedaled, pedaled, keeping her balance, and the wind was cool on her cheeks, brushing back her hair, and she was picking up speed, only wobbling a little, and she wasn’t falling. She was riding.
It felt like floating. It felt like flying. It felt like she was far away from everything that hurt her. The icy silences that stretched between her parents. The way her mom would always put a plate of cut-up carrots or bell peppers by her plate, and no one else’s, at dinnertime. How Dylan McVay at school had started calling her Flabby Abby, and now all the boys called her that.
“Abby! Stop! Turn around! Don’t go on the busy street!” Her daddy was yelling, chasing after her, his voice getting farther away with every rotation of the pedals. And Abby wasn’t falling. She was riding, on a bike that could take her anywhere. She was free.
Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-one books, including The Summer Place, That Summer, Big Summer, Mrs. Everything, In Her Shoes, Good in Bed, and a memoir in essays, Hungry Heart. She has appeared on many national television programs, including Today and Good Morning America, and her work has been published in TheWall Street Journal and TheNew York Times, among other newspapers and magazines. Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at JenniferWeiner.com.
"The Breakaway is sexy and suspenseful and so much fun, even as it asks us to imagine lives unconstrained by convention or the Supreme Court. It’s the lobster roll you get with mayo and melted butter — because why choose? To quote Mary Oliver grossly out of context, ‘Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves,’ whether it’s noodles or romance or even the uncertainty that comes with getting to decide who we want to be.”—New York Times
“Weiner is the undisputed queen of the fun yet thoughtful poolside read”—Vogue
Incredibly fun . . . A lovely, compulsively readable story about finding your path and believing in your own worth.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“This is a winning combination of a light read with serious emotional depth, the very mix Weiner's many fans have come to expect from her. Weiner’s annual summer release is a welcome (and highly anticipated) treat for readers of relatable relationship fiction.” —Booklist, starred review
“Charming…lively banter reels the reader in…this breezy outing goes down easy.” —Publishers Weekly