Abbott, Hailey. The Bridesmaid. Paw Print, 2008. ISBN 978-1439519226 266 pp. $
Abby’s parents run Dove’s Roost, a wedding planning service. After seeing Bridezilla after Bridezilla, she and her older sister make a pact that they will never get married, which lasts until her sister’s college graduation. Carol, a vegetarian activist Harvard grad, is smitten with a truck driving rancher from Colorado. Mom and Dad have viewed their careers as practice to give their daughters perfect weddings, so in spite of everyone’s belief they won’t be irrational as all the Dove’s Roost’s clients past and present, emotions run high as the family gets caught up in planning the wedding.
Every bad wedding cliche rears its ugly head: ugly bridesmaid dresses, the strange wedding gift that no one can define, and the polar opposite desires of the two families involved (in this instance, played out solely by the bride’s parents). Abby’s crush on Noah (the son of the master baker in town who does a lot of business with Abby’s family) and her preoccupation with applying to go abroad for a soccer program in Italy add even more tension to the plot, which wraps up neatly and predictably. Recommended for larger collections.
Thomson, Sarah L. The Manny. Dutton, 2005. ISBN 978-0525474135 256 pp. $
16-year old Justin is no dummy. When he gets an opportunity to spend a summer in the Hamptons enjoying ocean breezes and meeting rich girls instead of stuck in a sweltering NYC apartment, he doesn’t mind that it also means taking care of four year old Aspen (who might just be the easiest charge of any babysitter ever). Justin promptly falls for exotic Serafina, enlisting the help of her plainer friend Liz to win her over. Popular and pretty girls come with unique challenges that Justin isn’t prepared for.
Mixed in with the PG-rated romance are weighter issues of fitting in the rich kids, an angry dad who mistreats his nanny, and Justin’s discomfort with his mother, a widow of 13 years, finally going on a few dates.
Attention to clothing details, a sensitive protagonist with two stereotypically male best friends, and a plot revolving around how much better the cute friend is than the raving beauty make it all too apparent the book was written by a woman. Justin’s voice, though humorous, loses any authenticity it had when he emails his buddies and describes the girl he has targeted with his affections as weighing about 126 pounds. At least two references to the episode of Friends revolving around Ross and Rachel’s manny give the impression the author is stretching for validity to her plot. Still, the unconventional ending is refreshing and redeeming. No doubt, middle school girls will enjoy this light, often funny beach read.