Latest Read: The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt

Here are the basics ...
The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt
Publication date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received ARC from publisher (Thanks!)
Summary: 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. Then there's Grandpa's letter. Not only is she 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. 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. (Adapted

The good
Lindsey Leavitt's books are always so fun and quirky and The Chapel Wars was no exception. Sixteen year old Holly is grieving the loss of her grandfather when their family finds out what was left to each of them in his will. Holly gets his wedding chapel (yes, you read that right) on the Las Vegas strip plus two mysterious letters - one addressed to her and the other to Dax, the grandson of their rival wedding chapel (it's like Romeo + Juliet but with a better ending!). It's a lot to put on one person's shoulders as Holly is forced to save the chapel which is seriously in debt and become the boss of people far older than her, like her parents. And you know, be a regular high school student and a girl totally crushing on the very grandson she delivered a letter to.

Despite the not-so-typical circumstances of the book, I think Holly really carried the story and she's the main reason why I enjoyed The Chapel Wars. I related to her grief and all the little things that made her think of her grandfather. I was really close to my grandfather while growing up so I completely understood. It's that grief that pushes her into taking over the chapel. Even though she genuinely loves it and has a knack for business, it's clear all the effort she puts into trying to save this place is her way of dealing with the loss and trying to honor her grandfather's wishes. But it's not just about the chapel. We get a good look into her messy family life - divorced parents, younger brother with anger issues, older indifferent half-sister - and how she deals with all of them. Plus we see that she's one of those girls whose only friends are guys. (I am admittedly wary of this.) And then there's her feelings for Dax. She's gone out of her way to not fall for any guy ever and Dax is changing all that for her.

From beginning to end, Holly evolves and learns to broaden her horizons which I loved. She tries new things to keep the chapel going, she makes a female friend (this was sweet!) and she lets herself be with Dax even when it seems like a terrible idea. The chapel, Las Vegas and wedding craziness was a fun addition to the overall story but it's really about Holly.

(Some) reservations
I really liked the idea of the relationship between Holly and Dax and they certainly have some super cute moments but it didn't get me swooning. It's hard to explain exactly what was missing. Maybe it's because Dax would be kind of a jerk at times (although he would explain later) and Holly had a tendency to run away from her relationship problems instead of facing them. There were also some unresolved issues with her parents that I wish had been addressed. Like I said before, they're divorced and it's clear it hasn't been easy on her or her siblings. That much of it is acknowledged and I kept waiting for Holly to say something to her mom or dad. I just felt like that part needed a bit more closure.

Do I recommend?
If you're the mood for something quirky and light, this or any of Lindsey Leavitt's other books would definitely be a good choice. (Sean Griswold's Head is still my fave though!)

Happy reading!

1 comment

  1. I liked The Chapel Wars! It didn't blow me away completely, but it was a fun read. I liked the characters a lot - Holly, her family, her friends, Dax. I also enjoyed the craziness of the Vegas setting, particularly the wedding chapel bits. It was a pretty good first read of Leavitt's work for me!


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