I Now Pronounce You Someone Else
To say this is a great book is to do it an injustice. I think all crazy-in-love teenage girls should read this book - especially if they're dating someone older. A) Teenage girls shouldn't date men more than two years older than they are, and B) any teenage girl considering marriage before college, should be forced to read this book.
Ok, I understand that sometimes we find our soul-mate early on in life, and it's quite possible that I, as a 32-year-old single woman, might be a little judgmental of people who get married right out of college. However, the story of Bronwen Oliver, aka Phoebe Lillywhite, is a great story/example of someone who is about to get married and become an "us" before she knows who she is. She struggles with the idea of "we" because she isn't sure she's fully developed her sense of "me" in the first place. And Bronwen has a litany of life issues - many of which are made less painful when her fiance, Jared Sondervan, becomes an integral part of her life. But one of the main questions of this book remains - can finding your soul mate fix your life problems, or do you have to fix your life problems in order to really enjoy a relationship with your soul mate? I don't think that Erin McCahan attempts to answer this question, I think she simply wants to present a scenario where someone has to consider this idea.
I love how real Bronwen is. I love the fact that she has created an alternate persona for herself - Phoebe Lillywhite - because she is nearly 100% certain that she does not actually belong to her family. She's sure that her 'real' parents will show up any day and whisk her away. Why? Because her mom really doesn't get her. Every teenage girl feels like her parents don't get her, as I'm sure every mother feels like she doesn't get her teenage daughter. And Bronwen really struggles with not only her relationship with her mother, but figuring out who she is and what she wants in general. And the best part is, it's not completely cookie-cutter. Throughout the book, Bronwen (and Jared) approach their life decisions an their relationship in a very mature manner*, and the best part is - even though they're being very mature about the decisions they make, life is still hard. We all need to read books where life is rough for the 'perfect' people. I think that sometimes we get this idea that if you do the right things and have the right friends and believe the right things, that life will be easy - I know I thought that when I was a teenager (and, I won't lie, I still think that sometimes now). But regardless of what you look like or who your friends are or what you do with your Friday evenings, life is messy and icky and difficult. And with books like this one - where someone who should have a perfect life doesn't - remind us that it's not always greener on the other side.
*Thank you, Erin McCahan, for keeping their relationship sex-free and sacred. I think even though many teens ares sexually active, it's good to have an example of someone who isn't every once and awhile.
My only disappointment with the book was the ending. I won't spoil anything, but I will say that I think in real life, it would have ended differently.