Thursday, April 14, 2016

Pair It With: The Chapel Wars and The Last Boy and Girl in the World

In today's Pair It With I've brought together two books that remind me of each other in terms of their overall feel. This is definitely a case of, "If you like this book, I think you'll like this one too." But, more than that, both The Chapel War and The Last Boy and Girl in the World feature teen girls dealing with the possibility of losing something big, something that helps define who they are. Holly and Keeley must grapple with how to save this big thing and what it will mean if they can't.

The Chapel Wars was one of my favorite books of 2014, and The Last Girl and Boy in the World comes out on April 26th. 

The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt

Publisher / Year: Bloomsbury - May 2014

Genre: YA contemporary

Source: My local library

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Holly Nolan's grandfather left her his Las Vegas wedding chapel in his will. Grandpa Jim also left her a letter to deliver to Dax Cranston, the grandson of his mortal enemy, the owner of the chapel next door. On top of mourning Grandpa Jim and dealing with a budding relationship with Dax, the Rose of Sharon chapel is in financial straits. For Holly the chapel is more than just a job. It's family, it's home, it's her grandfather's legacy, and she's desperate to save it.

This is my favorite of Lindsey Leavitt's books, and that is saying a lot because I quite enjoyed Princess for Hire and Sean Griswold's Head. (I haven't read Going Vintage, yet.)

The Chapel Wars is a deceiving little book. You think that it's going to all light and cute, but it deals with so much and so many emotions. Holly's desperation to save the chapel is tied up with her grief over her grandfather's untimely death, her inability to imagine herself doing anything else, her need to support her family, and her pain over her parent's recent divorce (who, by the way, both work at the wedding chapel...awkward). I really loved the way this book dealt with Holly's grief, the time that was spent on Holly's relationships with her siblings, especially James, and how the death and divorce affected them all.

Holly's romance with Dax is fraught with barriers as well. They are the grandchildren of mortal enemies and, thus, afraid to tell their families about the relationship. Also, their chapels are direct competitors. Regular teenagers have plenty to negotiate when it comes to relationships but Dax and Holly have all that plus so much more. I loved their banter. I loved Holly's obsession with counting and her love of Las Vegas. I love that Dax is complicated, hurting, and nuanced.

The Chapels Wars was one of my favorite books of the year in 2014.


The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian

Publisher / Year: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - April 26, 2016

Genre: YA contemporary

Source: Review copy from Edelweiss

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Keeley Hewitt lives in the small town of Aberdeen. After a particularly wet spring, several flood warnings and evacuations, the governor declares their town unsafe. A dam will be built upstream flooding the town to create a reservoir that will protect the residents living downstream from further flood damage. Now Keeley, her family, and the entire town must pack up and move.

Like The Chapel Wars, The Last Boy and Girl in the World is a deceiving little book. It seems to dangle the promise of a light and fun read, but instead it delivers unexpected depths. (No pun intended.) Keeley must wrestle with the potential loss of her home and what it means to be a loyal daughter and friend. At the same time, her longtime crush suddenly sees her, and she has a job with the sheriff's son, a boy she can't stand. There are no easy answers to the problems that plague her, and Keeley finds herself making one mistake after another. 

I've been in the mood for a book that looks at a tough situation and doesn't take the easy way out. That is exactly what Siobvan Vivian does in The Last Boy and Girl in the World, and I appreciate it so much. There is, of course, something fun and delightful about a light and fluffy read, but a book that digs a little deeper, as this one does, can be so satisfying.

Some readers may find Keeley difficult to like. She miscalculates at almost every step, but I think that her heart was in the right place. Sometimes it takes a long fall for us to see where we went wrong. All these things made Keeley feel more real.

I have been wanting to read a book by Siobhan Vivian for some time now, so I jumped at the chance to review The Last Boy and Girl in the World. It definitely lived up to my expectations. 

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