The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo ***1/2

Another book mailed to me, another review to write.

This book was interesting.  It’s format was different than pretty much any other book I’ve ever read.  First off, we get a guest list with a summary of important characters at the beginning.  Then we get transcripts of videos sent to family members throughout the book.  Then we get first person narratives from the perspective of each of Gabby’s kids and from Gabby herself.    In this way, we get to peek into each person’s life.  Gabby, the English teacher do-gooder who has invited her children and their families home to the farm for a Christmas day wedding with the caveat that she will not reveal who she is marrying until the ceremony itself.  Seth, the novelist in Boston who loves his artist girlfriend and is waiting to have his book bought while working as the receptionist in an ad agency.  Claire, who lives in Myrtle Beach with an abusive, pothead, alcoholic for a husband and three kids who are witnessing the crazy.  (You really get to know and like her son Gus, regardless of the stuff he puts his mother and grandmother through).  Emily, the high powered lawyer who’s married to a high powered surgeon both of whom are kind and caring individuals you don’t actually want to smack even though they are possibly perfect on paper.  And Lizzie, who takes care of her sick husband and her little daughter with strength and patience while her doting husband cracks jokes to make her laugh.

This book is really less of a romance and more about the strength of family, particularly those families that are also friends.  Sure, there are three men who have proposed to Gabby, but they all remain friends.  There is almost no tension between the three suitors, all of whom have decided to do things the way Gabby wants because all they want is for her to be happy.   Some of the book was really powerfully written and realistic.  Some of it, like the men not protesting in earnest and having to be convinced that this was the best way, seemed a little out there to me.  I know, I know.  I can hear the protests already, “But you read and write fantasy and science fiction.  Not like Dragons and Elves are real!  Not like you’ve ever talked to an alien!”  And, yes, you’re right, readers mine.  I do read and write fantasy and science fiction.  However, the reason I love them so is because I can strip away the ordinary faces of people to show you the psychology and the reality of what goes on while doing it in a way that doesn’t hit you over the head with it.  To me, the fact that the three men proposed and not a single one of them ever truly pushed for an answer seems strange.  In the end though, if any of them had it would have made this story more dramatic, but not the feel-good story it was meant to be.  Light and fun, this is a novel that really was meant to entertain and to remind you about the Christmas spirit without hitting you over the head with a wooden mallet.  Overall, it achieved it’s goal and left me feeling all warm and fuzzy.

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