Monday, November 7, 2016

MMGM: The Wedding Planner's Daughter

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick

The Wedding Planner's Daughter,
 first in the series, by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
The Wedding Planner's Daughter

Written by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Cover art by Barbara McGregor

Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2006
Ages 8 and up, Lexile 780
208 pages, 33225 words

Humor, Growing Up, Parent-Child Relationships

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
     —Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

If you hear my name, Willafred, and don't picture a princess, well, hooray for you. "There's the wedding planner's daughter," they whisper." She's nothing like her mother."
       My mother, Stella Havisham, is as glamorous as a queen. I'm string-bean skinny with horse-tail hair. My eyes are nice, though. Blue, like the sea.
       We moved here to the sea last year. Bramble, Cape Cod, where Mother was born. So far we've lived in seven towns. We move when Stella gets scared. But Nana kept on begging her "stubborn as seaweed" daughter to come home, and at last Stella agreed.
       After all those years, when Stella finally said yes, well, that gave me hope for impossible things.

Willa and her mom move from town to town, running from the losses in their past. When they land in Bramble, Cape Cod, Willa is done running. She wants to put down roots, make a best friend, and be involved in her mother's planning business. But most important of all, Willa wants to spend her thirteenth birthday on Cape, because she is sure this will be the year her secret birthday wish comes true.

I fell in love with Willa's unmistakable voice on page one. Never mind she is a bookish romantic. She is also spunky, smart, awkward, unsure of herself, and lonely. This book spoke to my 11 year-old self. She lives on dreamy, storybook Cape Cod. Her world is peopled with her OCD mother, poetic next-door neighbor, her glam BFF and the cranky former friend, a sassy clergywoman, a mischievous grandma, and the elderly kindred spirit. The weddings are over-the-top. The setting authentic. The chapter titles are literary quotes which read like fortune cookies. The plot runs on Willa's drive to control her world, though she is often powerless to do so. Or is she. Willa finds the powers of love and honesty may succeed where her birthday wishes have failed.

As loathe as I am to stereotype, I can't find much that will interest boys in this book. Even sensitive romantics may find the wedding details, the tactful discussions of missing tween body parts, and the finer points of sleepovers out of their comfort zones. But for those brave enough to wade in, this book is as compelling as a sea shell, beckoning the discoverer to examine and cherish.

1. If you enjoyed The Wedding Planner's Daughter, you can read some of the other books by Paratore. Here's my brief opinion of Book #3, Willa by Heart.

Cupid Chronicles, Willa book #2
Funeral Director's Son #1
Sunny Holiday #1

2. I also highly recommend Bloomability or Because of Winn-Dixie.

by Sharon Creech
Because of Winn-Dixie,
by Kate DiCamillo

You can peruse the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday reviews of Because of Winn-Dixie below.
Greg on Always in the Middle
Joanne on My Brain On Books
Gabrielle Prendergast on her blog
Barbara  on Reading and Writing and Other Things

3. The Wedding Planner's Daughter takes place in the fictional town of Bramble, Massachusetts. I've got to wonder if Bramble is anything like Brewster, MA. After all, Brewster, Cape Cod is where you'll find the real Bramble Inn. And in the book, Willa lives next door to a former bed & breakfast.

The view from Paines Creek Beach, by Amy Mason

4. Curious where Coleen Paratore gets her ideas? Which is her favorite book? How she got started writing? Join TeenV during their video interview with the author.


Have you reviewed a Marvelous Middle Grade Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations for November 7, 2016.

MMGM started way back in 2010 by Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of Lost Cities. Each week, participating bloggers review our favorite books for ages 8-12. Why not join us?


  1. This sounds delicious and fluffy and delightful and real! I'm adding it to my list. :D Thanks for the recommend!

    1. Thanks, Suzanne. It's pretty much all those things, definitely optimistic and full of Hallmark happy endings, but not saccharine. Let me know what you think.

  2. Awww. How much fun this must be. I think I will have to check this one out. Thanks for the review.

    1. Fun is a good word. It is the ultimate beach read (or snowstorm read, depending on the season!) Thanks.


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