Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Keywords: weddings, family, rivalry
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley
Other books reviewed: Going Vintage
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Vegas, wedding chapels, and a family feud? Count me in. I was excited about this book from (virtual) page 1, and Leavitt definitely delivered a smart, cute, and quirky book about first love and what it truly means to get married.
Holly is left in charge of her grandfather's chapel, and basically, she has no clue what to do. I mean, she has some semblance, but because PLOT, she's got to figure a lot of things out for herself. Fortunately, she's a numbers girl. Which I thought was super cool. Since I'm an English and art person, it was really interesting to read about a character who functioned largely off of equations and formulas. She even calculates percentages of the likelihood that people who are married in Vegas will stay together. You know, just for fun.
On top of handling a close family member's death, she's also coping with her parents' divorce, an angsty middle-school brother, a distant college sister, and a long-standing family fight with a neighboring chapel, all while trying to actually run the chapel and earn enough money to keep it open. Oh, and school was a thing, too. I was so impressed with Holly's involvement in everything, and Leavitt's story didn't make the whole thing unrealistic. Holly struggled with keeping everything straight and on track, as she should, but she was still a teenager, and she still became emotional and reckless at times. I love that she was flawed, but trying so hard not to be.
This romance thing that happened with Dax wasn't her first go at boys, which I also appreciated. She had been on dates, done some stuff with boys, and had moved on. Like high school girls do. It wasn't the end of the world for her when something didn't work out, which isn't written about enough. Dating was a normal thing, and it wasn't glorified or made to be something it wasn't.
Of course, one of the main plot points was Dax and his stance on the family fight. I liked him okay. He wasn't one of my favorite guys that's ever appeared in books, but I didn't loathe him. But maybe that's what made him such a good character, now that I think about it. He was a realistic teenage boy. He made mistakes, he made gestures too soon and too late, and he wasn't always right (but he was sometimes, I'll give him that. I promise I'm not picking on teenage guys). Together, Holly and Dax were perfect representations of stupid, smart, funny, weird teenagers while having a really cool city and business to run around in.
Holly's friend group (all guys, plus her best friend's girl friend) was equally awesome, and the situation between her best friend and his girlfriend is one I LOVE and will talk about a lot with anyone who's read the book. I don't want to give anything away because reasons, but man, I adored Leavitt for spinning the story the way she did. Super realistic and a lot of what I think about certain things. (Okay, that's really vague, but you'll know what I mean if you've read it. I think)
Overall, this was such a fun light-hearted read for being a book about a girl dealing with her grandfather's death. I could not get enough of the Vegas wedding chapel plot, and it made me seriously consider impulsively looking up more things about Vegas wedding chapels because they all sound so incredibly interesting. You never really think about the people who run them when you think of them.