Review: The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt

Lindsey Leavitt
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: May 6, 2014

From the back cover:

Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?

And then there’s Grandpa’s letter. Not only is Holly running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money—fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family’s mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and… Dax. No wait, not Dax.

Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there’s a wedding chapel to save.

I think the best way to describe THE CHAPEL WARS is cute. There is so much cuteness in this book that you’d think it would suffer from it, but somehow it doesn’t. Because beneath the layers of cute there’s a real lesson on grief that will resonate with anyone who’s experienced a great loss in their life.

Holly basically grew up in the wedding chapel, so losing it would be like losing her grandpa all over again. Problem is, no one knew how much financial trouble the business was in, and no one knows how to fix it. Which leaves Holly to step in and save the day.

Although I enjoyed watching Holly go from clueless teenager to budding businesswoman, there were times I wondered why her parents didn’t step in and take a greater role. It made them seem a bit dysfunctional. Maybe that was the point, as the family relationship does grow and evolve throughout the book, but there were times when it felt a bit frustrating.

And then there’s Dax, the boy from the wedding chapel next door, who is sometimes a bit difficult to like. Holly, of course, has no such trouble, falling for him almost instantly. While I realize page count limits come in to play, I would have liked to see a bit more development between them. As it was, I never fully understood what Holly saw in Dax, except for maybe a kindred spirit dealing with grief.

The Vegas wedding chapel setting is full of over-the-top glitz and fake Elvis (because a Vegas chapel would NOT be complete without one…or two!), which, I think, is really where the strength and uniqueness of the book lies. Lindsey Leavitt brings cheesy wedding chapels to life in a big way, and then tempers them with some real and poignant moments that keep the reader turning the pages.

I would recommend THE CHAPEL WARS to anyone who likes light contemporary YA romance with quirky characters and tons of cute.



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