Monday, January 21, 2013

Book Review: A Wedding in Great Neck

By Gail Allison

When most people think of weddings, they have visions of big white poofy dresses, bouquets being tossed, and tears of joy. You know…bride-centered, super-happy wedding thoughts. But what about everyone else who is also affected by the nuptials? What about the older sister (who isn’t as self-assured as everyone would like to think she is) having to fuss over her adored younger sister (again), while maintaining a façade of calm in front of her ex-husband and her moody teenaged daughter? What about the bride’s father, coming back and being forced to revisit his failed marriage to the bride’s mother while having to bear witness to the extravagant generosity of her second husband? What about the niece, slowly learning who she is as a woman, but wanting to stand strong in her moral values, learning that the bride’s husband-to-be is a smolderingly gorgeous ex-Israeli fighter pilot?

Angelica, the darling of the Silverstein clan, is getting married. Four generations of Silversteins will be coming together to celebrate the marriage, and everyone is bringing along all of their baggage. Angelica is determined to have a day that goes exactly to plan, but will the family’s issues and ideas trip up her finely tuned day? Angelica has always gotten exactly what she wants, how she wants it, but will today be the day that the family finally goes to pieces on her?

This book was spot-on in its approach of all the different (and far-reaching!) effects that one wedding day can have. The spectrum of emotion and constant evolution of feelings is not only explored in-depth, but is turned from one character to another with such smoothness that you feel almost intrusive at times. You know these people’s deepest thoughts. You know their dark secrets. You can see past the façade, but you can also completely empathize with their choices thus far.

Ms. McDonough does an amazing job of smoothly drawing the reader into the controlled chaos that is a wedding. She lets the reader become a silent witness to the pieces of the puzzle that no one else sees, and does such a spectacular job of letting the reader in on secrets that you feel like double-checking yourself and making sure that you didn’t spill the beans when someone else finds out what’s going on. She writes every character with such tenderness and empathy that you can absolutely find the humanity in every one, and really start to think about how one person’s careless actions can have a lasting ripple effect.

A Wedding In Great Neck was a nice, easy read that has definitely stuck with me after I turned the last page. I’m looking forward to reading this one again and have already recommended it to a few friends. I’m also planning to look for Ms McDonough’s other novels. If they’re written even half as well as this one, that’s definitely an investment that is guaranteed to pay off in the end.

Thanks to Penguin for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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1 comment:

The Book Chick said...

I really enjoyed this one as well. The story sucked me in and the writing was so smooth!!