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The Chapel Wars Hardcover – May 6, 2014
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At 17, Holly Nolan is the surprised owner of the Rose of Sharon Wedding Chapel after her Grandpa Jim’s death. Smart, business-minded Holly is dismayed to discover that the classy chapel is heavily in debt, and she vows to rescue it from ruin, even if it means lowering standards to compete with Victor Cranston’s tacky Cupid’s Dream Chapel next door. Victor has a ridiculously handsome grandson, Dax, who has arrived in town after a family tragedy. Holly and Dax are immediately attracted to each other, but their romance is complicated by the competition between their respective chapels as well as the dramas of family and friends. Leavitt creates some hilarious scenes that could only be set in Las Vegas (kissing Elvises, anyone?) while maintaining a serious emotional tone. Like a Sarah Dessen heroine, Holly discovers that her heart has answers that are neither easy nor perfect. Recommend to readers who enjoy novels that blend lighthearted moments and gravitas. Grades 9-12. --Diane Colson
“You'll want to place your bets on Lindsey Leavitt's hilarious and heartfelt novel filled with family rivalry, forbidden love, life-changing secrets, and a hot boy dressed up like Cupid. Just like Vegas, The Chapel Wars kept me up all night.” ―Elizabeth Eulberg, author of Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality
“Leavitt's sense of place and ability to balance grief with hope make for an entertaining read.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Holly's story could almost be a sitcom. But the hilarity is tempered by moments of genuine feeling . . . Readers will root for her as she attempts to preserve her grandfather's dream while beginning to imagine her own.” ―The Horn Book Magazine
“Leavitt creates some hilarious scenes . . . while maintaining a serious emotional tone . . . Recommend to readers who enjoy novels that blend light-hearted moments and gravitas.” ―Booklist
“The Chapel Wars stands alone as a funny, realistic, heartfelt novel that teens of all ages will enjoy.” ―VOYA
“Payton's alternately sarcastic, snappy, and reflective narration carries this insightful story.” ―Publishers Weekly on the ALA Best Book for Young Adults Sean Griswold's Head
“Lindsey Leavitt made me want to go vintage. Readers everywhere will identify with this smart and likable heroine, as well as her yearning for a simpler and (seemingly) less complicated time.” ―Meg Cabot, New York Times bestselling author, on Going Vintage
“Lindsey Leavitt's best book yet. Mallory's voice is addictive! Going Vintage is witty, hilarious, real . . . impossible not to love!” ―Becca Fitzpatrick, New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga, on Going Vintage
“With perceptiveness and several fun plot twists, Leavitt's nuanced book is filled with quirky characters that readers will root for and believe in.” ―Publishers Weekly on Going Vintage
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(And for any writers out there: this book will teach you incredible things about voice, using setting as a sort-of character, and the idea of having a focus object in your book.)
Rating: PG to PG-13
Cupid's Dream represents everything Holly's beloved chapel has long stood against -- the cheap, commercialization of marriage and Vegas's reputation for tackiness. But Dax is a surprise. The Alabama-transplant is everything his grandfather isn't, has a smile that steals her breath, and a loyalty to his family's chapel that only Holly can begin to understand. But if Holly was going to save the chapel for her grandfather, her family, and herself, she couldn't possibly lose her heart to one of the enemy. In the Chapel Wars her would-be Romeo proves surprisingly persistent, and as Holly really, truly, opens herself to the possibility of love, she discovers the only thing more dangerous than losing her heart to the boy next door is the realization that the future she thought she's always wanted may be the last thing she really needs.
After falling in love with Lindsey Leavitt's breezy love letter to vintage aficionados, Going Vintage, last summer, her newest was high on my list of summer must-reads. While "old-fashioned charm" is perhaps the last phrase one would readily associate with the gambling mecca that is Las Vegas, Leavitt spins a sparkling love letter to the strip and what matters most with all of the warmth and winning flair that characterized its predecessor. But more than a love story set against the memory of the Vegas of Sinatra and the Rat Pack, The Chapel Wars is an unexpected treatise on grief and the lessons that can be gleaned from life's most painful and challenging chapters -- loss and (unsought) change.
While at first glance Holly finds it impossible to believe that she could have anything in common with Dax, both are scarred by losses and struggling to find their way in a world whose very foundation has crumbled beneath their feet. Dax is still reeling from the accident that robbed him of both his father and his chance to play college baseball. He blames himself for the tragedy, at his lowest drinking his pain into oblivion. The death of Holly's grandfather and the pressure of his bequest bring the divorce of her parents into sharp relief, a loss of normalcy that she doesn't understand and fears accepting. For if she loses the chapel and her parents remain split, what glue would be left to hold her fractured family together? Loss is often a trigger for sould-searching, and when the rock upon which one's identity rests is shaken, it forces an individual to question not only who they are, but who they want to be. And within the pages of The Chapel Wars, Leavitt explores how both Holly and Dax do just that individually and collectively with compassion and a dash of humor.
Leavitt's characterizations and relationships -- familial, friendship, and romantic -- shine here. Holly, Dax, and the friends and family members within their orbit, the relationships fostered and challenged, are a study in finding beauty in the ashes of life's most painful, messed up moments. In life and in fiction, especially when the former leaves one reeling, it is human nature, I think, to look for resolution for neatly-wrapped fictional endings that satisfy the emotional and intellectual need for closure. But what Leavitt reminds us with Holly's story is of the beauty in the brokenness, the questions, and the journey itself. As Holly comes to realize, "We're all messed up...life is just about finding the right people to be messed up with" -- or, perhaps to put it even more simply, to remember to treasure the gift of grace.
The Chapel Wars contain everything I've quickly come to love about Leavitt's writing -- warmth, humor, and a sweetly-told, swoon-worthy romance. But she surprised me in the best possible way with Holly and Dax's story, for this is a breezy summer read with depth and heart, and exploration of grief and loss, and a celebration of the oft-times poignant, bittersweet nature of new beginnings. This story is an absolute GEM, and I cannot wait to see where Leavitt takes readers next!
Most recent customer reviews
This e-galley was provided by NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA Children's in exchange for an honest review.Read more
She wrote one of my favorite books of 2013: Going Vintage...and now I'm sure this will be one of my 2014 favorites.Read more