Book Review – A Patron Saint for Junior Bridesmaids by Shelley Tougas

patron-saint-for-junior-bridesmaidsBy Awnali Mills

Mary Margaret Miller is a peacemaker.  She’s constantly stepping into family fights to diffuse the situation and make everyone happy.  She’s a devoted Catholic and all around good girl who even has an award to prove that she’s a champion nice girl.

So why did she punch Brent Helzinski?

She doesn’t want to talk about it.

Her family’s hardware store has closed, her family has to move, and she and her brother are being forced to spend the summer with her Grandmother while her parents get situated.  But that’s okay, because she’s the official junior bridesmaid for her cousin Eden’s wedding.  The only problem is that Eden has social anxiety disorder and wants a small wedding, but Mary’s force-of-nature grandmother wants a huge wedding.  And despite all her searching, Mary is unable to find a patron saint for junior bridesmaids to help her through this mess.

What’s a peacemaker dumped in the middle of this chaos supposed to do?

I’ll admit that I picked up this book for two reasons.  I loved the cover, and Sheila Turnage, author of Three Times Lucky, says on the cover that she loved it.  I know.  I rarely pay attention to those reviews.  They remind me of the scene in Castle when he’s supposed to be writing book reviews.  He puts the book to his forehead and spouts a typical review caption.  Still, I adore Sheila Turnage and wanted to know what she liked (even if it wasn’t real).

Well, darn it, I liked it too (so it was probably a real review)!  Tougas gives us a heroine who really wants to do good things, but she doesn’t always know what that is.  I really related to that “good girl” drive, and being afraid that someone would figure out that I wasn’t perfect (yeah, I’m sure I was fooling TONS of people).

I also enjoyed the frank and friendly depiction of faith.  Even when her next door neighbor questions Mary’s faith the situation isn’t antagonistic, but honest.  The book isn’t deeply religious, but her faith is a huge part of Mary.  This will make it easy for kids of faith to relate to her, and help kids who don’t come from that background to relate to kids who do.  Lots of kids will be able to relate to Mary’s zany family and the stress of trying to keep the peace, especially when the adults are being passive aggressive with one another because they’re afraid to stand up for themselves.  And the book was funny enough to make me laugh out loud a few times.

Put this book into the hands of anyone who enjoys weddings, crazy family stories, or who is feeling the stress of trying to be a good kid all the time.

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