Title: The Wedding Planner's Daughter
Author: Colleen Murtagh Paratore
Aladdin Paperbacks, 2005
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Recommended to: Preteen girls, 10-13
Dreamy twelve-year-old Willa Havisham wants only one thing in the world: a father. She's spent countless wishes on stars, birthday candles, and lucky cherry pits from her favorite confection, cherry cordials. But then Willa and her steely, businesslike wedding planner of a mother, Stella, move to Bramble, Cape Cod, and meet Sam, Willa's poetic, romantic seventh-grade English teacher--he'd make a perfect dad! Willa is determined to marry Stella and Sam off, and with the help of her candy-store owning grandmother and fun new best friend Tina, she might just have a dad by her thirteenth birthday!
Then a disastrous event at a very important wedding occurs, possibly wrecking Stella's orderly business, and it's up to Willa to save Sam and Stella's relationship and secure her happy ending...
One word to sum up this whole book would be this: Awww. The whole story had, all-in-all, a sweet, fluffy vibe, a perfect read for summer. A satisfying combination of Cape Cod charm, friendship, romance, and the true meaning of family, the overall product was simply charming, from the warm, lovable characters right down to the fairytale-happy ending that sets up perfectly for a hopefully equally-lovely sequel. The plot was fast-paced, and readers will find themselves rooting for the oh-so-realistic Willa, who reads classic novels, eats her grandmother's homemade cherry cordials, gets mad at her mother, and dreams about her crush, Joey. The whole atmosphere felt light and breezy, and the quotes and "Willa's Pix" at the end gave it an old-fashioned, homemade feel, which I greatly enjoyed. It just felt like the author put a lot of love into her novel, and as a result, the finished product was radiant, its characters shaped into realistic almost-perfection.
My one problem was that the book seemed a little syrupy sweet at parts, too much for my taste. I get it: it's supposed to be mellow and light, but I just found the last half of the book to be a bit predictable and cliché: everything resolves and is perfect again, ho-hum, a bit unrealistic for my taste.
However, I cannot say I didn't enjoy this little confection of summer-fun. I felt like I personally knew Willa and her friends and the sweet town of Bramble (I want to live there, eat Nana's candy, dance at the June Bug, spy on Stella's weddings, and live in the Havishams' darling little classic seaside home!) by the time I had finished. I can't wait to read the second in the series, The Cupid Chronicles.