I received this book for free from Bloomsbury USA Children's in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Genres: Friendship, Humorous Stories, Love & Romance, Young Adult
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.
THE CHAPEL WARS was something that I wasn’t exactly expecting, it ended up being better. Based off the summary, I was expecting something along the lines of two teenagers who work at two feuding wedding chapels in Las Vegas to fall in love, creating more turmoil between the families along the way. There was some of that to a degree. The main focus of the novel actually centered around Holly and the tremendous loss she has just suffered, trying to cope, saving her grandpa’s wedding chapel, and learning to heal and move on. THE CHAPEL WARS, while delivering this slightly forbidden romance, turned into a novel with a lot of depth and meaning that anybody could relate to.
After the sudden loss of her grandfather, Holly has inherited the wedding chapel that has been in the family for 50 years. She is only a teenager but feels confident she can turn the place around and save it from getting owned by the bank. That is a tremendous load for someone her age but with the help of her family and her best friends, it all becomes a little bit more manageable. Dax Cranston is the grandson of her grandfather’s mortal enemy, the owner of the chapel next door. They quickly realize they have a bond and a similar history which makes them start to fall for one another. Neither’s family would be too happy about it, but Holly slowly allows Dax in, which proves to be the right decision when he joins her task force to help save the Rose of Sharon Wedding Chapel.
Don’t let my introductory paragraph worry you. There is plenty of Dax and Holly romance building scenes and some drama that occurs because of their new relationship. But unfortunately, I was never really a fan of the two together. Yes, they have a connection and can easily relate to one another, but Dax is sketchy. He keeps secrets, he only ever talks about Holly, and more times than not he simply can’t be reached. One day he is telling Holly how much he likes her but then she can’t get in touch with him for 3 days. I know he’s been hurt and doesn’t have the happiest life–I completely appreciate Leavitt making a character that is three dimensional like this and not just the “perfect” guy–but I thought he was a crappy boyfriend. I know that I wouldn’t be putting up with some of his shenanigans, and the fact that Holly just brushed it off made me pretty annoyed. You deserve better girl!
This all brings me to my next little problem: this romance falls into the insta-love category. I can understand an instant connection, sparks flying, etc but after everything I mentioned above, the two characters were pretty quickly in the head over heels department. It didn’t really make much sense to me. They had only known each other for a couple of weeks, Dax was MIA most days, and all they did while they were together was make out or focus on saving Holly’s chapel. There wasn’t much sustenance.
All of that aside, I loved what Leavitt chose to focus this story on. The romance was kind of ??? but the heart of the novel was about Holly and the passion she showed for that chapel, how desperate and willing she was to do anything to save it, and the loss of her grandfather. The chapel and her grandfather were very set in its ways of being a traditional chapel with no cheesy themes or outlandish events. Holly’s grandfather prided himself on that fact. But once Holly inherits it and finds out how much trouble they are in, things have to change. She makes difficult decisions and even though she absolutely hates having to make them, she does what she believes will save the place. I couldn’t imagine having to run my own business as a teenager, especially all of a sudden like that. Holly stays level headed and won’t let anything stop her. Losing her grandfather and everything she’s ever known is awful and something she still can’t wrap her head around. Leavitt did a great job showing just how much Holly is struggling but not letting it get her down. I enjoyed reading THE CHAPEL WARS because of Holly and seeing how her new experiments were working in terms of keeping the chapel.
|3.5-4 Thought Clouds|