I received this book for free from Publisher 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
Also by this author: Sean Griswold's Head
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on May 6th 2014
Genres: Friendship, Humorous Stories, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
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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 thing that I love about books by Lindsey Leavitt is that I know they are going to be about just plain nice and good people. That might sound a little bit derogatory, but stop judging. I mean it in the best possible way. Like, I love that she writes these characters that come across as NORMAL people. Sure, they have issues, but they are not bitter or weird or abnormal. The Chapel Wars is another book about a teenager who is not at all a jerk, but the kind of girl that I wanted good things to happen for. This book was such a quick and engaging read that I actually honestly read the whole thing on my phone while waiting in line and on my lunch break, just in snatches throughout the day.
The Chapel Wars opens with the death of Holly’s grandfather and the reading of his will. Everyone in her family gets something and it seems that Holly has been left out — which cannot be right because she and her grandfather were tight. Holly Nolan is handed a letter and there she discovers that she has been left her grandfather’s wedding chapel on a Vegas strip – The Rose Of Sharon. Holly also discovers that there’s a whole lot of debt that comes along with the chapel and that she’s going to have to put everything she’s learned from business classes at her magnet school and all that she’s got into saving the chapel. There’s also the issue of Dax Cranston, a Southern boy whose grandfather, Victor Cranston, was Holly’s grandfather’s mortal enemy. Even worse? Victor owns the chapel next door and he would like for nothing better than to see The Rose Of Sharon go under. Not on Holly’s watch, though.
Holly Nolan, main character, is very much a leader. She is kind of the perfect person to be left in charge of The Rose Of Sharon. You would think a sixteen year old would not have the business acumen to get a wedding chapel from out of the red to back into the black, but Holly is totally the sort of person who can do it. As much as it pains her to do so, she’s willing to make sacrifices in order to save everyone’s jobs and the chapel. In her grandfather’s time, the chapel did not have theme weddings and Elvis was verboten at the chapel. The Rose Of Sharon did not call for cliche. However, desperate times means taking desperate measures. What I like is that Holly is okay with this. She does what she has to do. ALSO! One thing that I remember about the main character of The Chapel Wars is that she rocks a pixie haircut and I think that’s cool because it does not happen often enough in the books I read.
The romance in The Chapel Wars is of the Romeo and Juliet variety. Dax is a Cranston which means that Holly’s family automatically dislikes him. Also, Holly legitimately hates Dax’s grandfather and I can’t say that I blame her, seeing as how he shows up drunk to her grandfather’s funeral and breaks the Bono sunglasses that he’s wearing in the casket. Seriously, Victor is a jerk. Anyways, as much as she hates Victor, Holly can’t deny that she wants to know Dax. And so, the two begin seeing each other secretly. Dax becomes Holly’s first serious boyfriend. Friends, this is such an adorable romance. It’s not steamy or adult or anything, but it is adorable and it feels genuine. ALSO! There are kissing scenes and they are totally sweet and well, I get why Dax and Holly are into each other.
The Chapel Wars is set in Vegas, as you well know from my paragraphs above. Lindsey Leavitt almost makes Vegas feel like a character in this book. It is peppered with information about the history of the city. Further, Holly Nolan loves Vegas. That love for her home shines through in so many of Holly’s scenes — like when she’s taking Dax who is a newcomer around town. Holly knows things about the history of her city and she loves sharing her tidbits of knowledge. Frankly, that made Holly and this book much more endearing to me.
I liked The Chapel Wars for the most part. However, I won’t lie. This book did not grab me quite the same way that Going Vintage or Sean Griswold’s Head did. I mean, Leavitt is great at family dynamics. However, I am not sure how I felt about the dynamics in this book. Family wasn’t as big of an element as it typically is in her other books. For one, Holly’s parents are divorced. Granted, this leaves Holly feeling a bit skeptical about romance and love, given that she had no idea her parents weren’t happy. I don’t know. I guess I just missed the large scale focus of family. The divorce thing didn’t bother me because that’s the reality for a lot of people — however — I think I would have liked more page time for Holly and her siblings and her parents and maybe less of a focus of her fledgling relationship with Dax. Blasphemy, I know.
Alas, this is a pretty fun read and I would recommend it if you’re looking for something light with a go get ’em team sort of attitude (I mean, that totally fits when everyone is trying to save The Rose of Sharon).