Our April pick is The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt. This week it’s my turn to host our Round Table Discussion.
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 she 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.
1) One of the themes in this book is coping with loss and we see not only several types of loss but several different ways of coping with it. How do you cope with loss, whether death of a loved one, ended friendship, not getting a job, etc.? Did you relate to any of the characters’ coping methods?
Kristina @ Gone Pecan – When I was 18 I lost both of my grandmothers within 12 days of each other. That was hands down the toughest month I’ve gone through and to this day I still think about how I acted when it happened. Right before they passed I threw myself into helping take care of them and spent a lot of time with them but once we got to the funeral I basically shut down and I didn’t cry, didn’t chat, heck I didn’t even want people to hug me. I hated everything about the funeral process. I definitely can relate to Holly not wanting to let down her grandfather even after he is gone and throwing herself into working to make him proud and honoring his memory. I still think about small things I’m doing today and whether my grandmother’s would be proud. Most recently my nails. I know that might sound so insignificant to someone but my dad’s mom gave me so much grief about biting my nails (something I still struggle with to this day.) I haven’t bitten them in over a month and I know she would just be so excited to see it. 🙂
Tee @ YA Crush – I think every loss is different, of course, but I related a little to Holly in her quest to please the grandfather she was so close to. I was exceptionally close to my grandparents and when my grandmother died I was actually a newlywed. My grandpa and I would go out on Thursday nights and watch this amazing jazz band and we’d talk about my grandma and about their life. But then he died three months later. It was a painful blow, but the more time that passed, the more I felt distanced from the actual loss, I could remember them in a happy way. I used my grandmother’s name, Grace, as my first child’s middle name, I play a million styles of music for my kids just like my grandpa did with me, and I’ve raised them to be fierce readers like her (and me!). My whole life is a way of remembering them because their influence is everywhere from my career choice before I became a stay at home mom, to my husband and their love of him (high school sweethearts like them), to virtually everything about me. So I think that the best way to cope with loss is to keep with you the things you love about someone, much like Holly does. She realizes it’s not the building or the business itself, but everything her grandfather stood for, everything he taught her, that lasts. I think that’s true of anyone we love.
2) Although several of us are already married or soon to be married, if you were going to get married (or hey! Renew your vows) in Vegas and could have an eccentric Vegas style wedding, what theme would you choose?
Brittany @ The Book Addict’s Guide – Ummmm. I would have a Harry Potter wedding, duh. ALSO loved that one of Holly’s friends was obsessed with Harry Potter, by the way. That would definitely be my choice. I guess we would have to wear uniforms… Maybe Dumbledore would marry us. Butterbeer toast and pumpkin pasty wedding cake? Okay, no, just kidding… Not thinking about this at all….
Daphne @ Gone Pecan – I actually considered getting married in Vegas, but I wouldn’t have had a “theme” wedding. There are some very classy wedding venues that you can utilize. The bigger hotels have gorgeous chapels & I would go in that direction.
Tee @ YA Crush – Ok so, I know this is nerdy, but I would totally go for a Star Wars themed vow renewal (not for my actual wedding, which was a swanky, white dress affair, but for an anniversary). In fact, I mentioned this to my husband recently, totally feeling inspired by this book, and he looked at me like I was crazy. So I’m taking that as a no.
3) Holly’s views on marriage are bleak, despite working most of her life in a wedding chapel, and as a teen who has seen many marriages (and failed marriages) she has a negative opinion on getting married. How have your views on marriage changed as you’ve aged?
Kristina @ Gone Pecan – Boy have my opinions changed! Being over 30 and still never married (don’t ask me WHY?! or I WILL punch you) the dreams I had about happily ever after as a little girl are completely gone. When I was little I wanted it all. The big wedding, poofy dress, huge cake, all the presents, etc. Now? I’m 50/50 on if I even WANT to get married. If I do one day I’m be happy just going to the courthouse with my future hubs. I’d like to say reality set in as I got older but I do not want to imply that older women who still want the big wedding are wrong so I think of it as my tastes have changed just like they would for clothes, books, or anything else. I also think seeing several friends and family marrying and divorcing does jade the idea somewhat but not enough to give up on all of your hopes.
Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks – The older I get the more certain I am that there are no perfect or ideal marriages. I think divorce is so prevalent partially because people have unrealistic expectations that marriage will be one long honeymoon of vacations, marathon sex sessions and home improvements. But marriage is EVERY DAY, and not every day is a banner milestone. What I’ve discovered is that you have to CHOOSE the person and your marriage, even when you’re annoyed with or stressed out our plain angry at your spouse. I used to think I “knew” who had a good marriage and who didn’t, but the truth is no one really knows what a marriage is like except the two people in it!
Daphne @ Gone Pecan – Growing up with a single mother, I saw marriage as the golden grail of life accomplishments. It wasn’t even about the man, so much, as just another thing I didn’t have but wanted. Those people in marriages seemed to be stable and secure and it really broke my heart whenever anyone I knew divorced. As a feminist now, though, I can see that marriage is not necessarily something that all people need and I’m okay with being someone who does want marriage and family. I tend to be more optimistic than Holly, though. I understand that people enter marriage for various reasons, not always having to do with love, and that they fail for different reasons, and it’s not predictable. As I’ve gotten older and become married myself, I understand that it is more about your outlook on life than some false sense of security that will allow you to be happy with yourself and a committment to another person will not necessarily make your life better.
4) Dax is new to the Vegas scene having recently moved there from Alabama (Yay!) and Holly takes it on herself to “introduce” the real Vegas to him. Were than any particular places that she took him that you would like to visit yourself? Where would you take someone who was new to your hometown?
Brittany @ The Book Addict’s Guide – I loved this part of the book! I think it’s so special being able to show someone your hotspots and old haunts. I guess I’d have to take someone to downtown Chicago, but eh, I’m not really a city person! If they were a book person, I’d HAVE to take them to Anderson’s in Naperville! And now that Shane and I have moved, we discovered this little hole-in-the-wall dive bar/grill that makes amazing hamburgers and we literally take all of our friends there now! I’d probably show them the lesser-known restaurants of the suburbs, maybe take them to Medieval Times… the Chicago suburbs don’t have a lot but we do have SOME hidden gems!
Daphne @ Gone Pecan – I am a huge history buff and I can spend hours looking at museums and the one place I would LOVE to visit is that old sign junk yard. I bet it’s awesome.
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA – I’d love to go to the old sign junk yard Holly takes Dax to. That’s completely my thing. And the water fountains in front of the Bellagio! They’re so iconic! If you were to visit me in Tuscaloosa (I’m not from here and it’s not my hometown but I’m going with it) I’d have a blast showing you around! I mean, we don’t boast junk yard museums, but we’ve got a few hidden gems. First off, you CANNOT come to Tuscaloosa without seeing the University of Alabama – Denny Chimes, Bryant Denny, The Mound, Gorgas Library. Come in the spring and I guarantee you’ll get some pretty pictures. I’d also show you the river which is one of my favorite things here in town because it’s pretty and it’s water. We also have great BBQ places so come hungry! And no trip is complete without stopping somewhere and buying an Alabama shirt. Roll Tide!
5) As with Leavitt’s other novels, we’re introduced to a whole cast of secondary characters, each with their own set of problems and story separate from the MC’s. Was there any particular character that stood out to you? What made them stand out from the crowd?
Check out what my fellow Selective Collective girls have to say about The Chapel Wars!