Friday, June 20, 2008

The Wedding Planner's Daughter by: Coleen Murtagh Paratore

Part champagne-fizzy fairy tale and part account of the trials & tribulations of middle school, Paratore gives tween readers a new girl to look up to (step aside Miley Cyrus and your now-faded copy of Vanity Fair). Namely, Willafred Havisham.

With the catchy title of a Jennifer Aniston rom-com and a cast of quirky (if occasionally stilted) characters, The Wedding Planner's Daughter is perfect for the nine-to-twelve set. I'd be stretching it if I said thirteen, because Willa's antics would certainly bore the Gossip Girl set to tears.

The story is this: Every year on her birthday, Willa has wished for a father. Not "her" father. "A" father. Willa's career-oriented, cyncical mother, Stella, (who just-so happens to double as a wedding planner and strict inforcer of The Rules) has been single since the tragically dramatic death of Willa's father.

Faced with yet another new town (this time the rich folk's playground: Cape Cod), Willa is determined to find a suitable husband for Stella and the perfect boyfriend-and-best-friend combo for herself.

Rating: Three. Despite the lovable, relatable character and the abudance of literary refrences no twelve-year-old could get, Paratore's heroine Willa only earns her story a three. This short novel made me want more (I love the 'after' of Happily Ever Afters) but the plot of The Wedding Planner's Daughter's sequel, The Cupid Chronicles, seems much more contrived and predictable than it's surprisingly likeable first novel.

Here's a message to all the first-time authors out there. Sometime's it's just best to drop the story after number one.

And one more thing: it's okay to leave a few ends loose. Even twelve-year-olds understand this.

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