Save the date by Mary Kay Andrews

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St Martin's Press, 2018. ISBN 9781250190291
(Age: Older adolescents - Adult) Plunging us into the frenetic life of the young woman who has chosen to be a wedding florist, whose work begins with flowers and catapults into the full thing - the flowers in the church (and often for the reception too), the flowers carried by the bridal party, the decoration of the reception venue, flowers for the bride and often advice for the bride, or sometimes for the mother-of-the-bride, or even the groom, Mary Kay Andrews sets up a protagonist who keeps up a pace that seems impossible to imagine. This novel would be suitable for older adolescents and indeed for adults intrigued by this particular world in the southern states of the USA.
Cara Kryzik is on the rebound from an unsuccessful relationship, and has started up her own shop to supply the luxurious floral decorations expected for weddings, both commonly at the church and in the wedding venue as decreed by the mores of society in the southern US states. Her brief goes beyond the flowers that might be carried by the bridal party, as she begins to create the decorations, responding to the brides, for the whole ceremony and reception, also advising on many other aspects of the wedding. The costs are high, and not just in monetary terms, as so much is expected by the brides, the mothers of the brides, the attendants and indeed the family, and Kara is under enormous pressure for almost every wedding, pre-wedding and post-wedding celebrations for which she caters. However, the complexity of her life is extended further as she deals with a broken marriage, a new lover, unhelpful workers and a father who wants to run her life.
Fast-paced, like Kara's life, this novel takes us on a journey to the southern United States, exploring the pressures exerted by the families on the brides as well as the weight of the expectation of perfection in every single aspect of the whole ceremony and celebrations on that very special day. However, the underlying story of Kara dominates, and we are drawn deeply into her family troubles, her attempts to leave her old life behind to forge her way into a new life, the dominating father and the element of trust that concerns her deeply in her relationships.
Captivating and fast-paced, this delightful novel depicts southern life so vibrantly, exploring both its expectations of family members in their daily lives, and especially on such occasions as a wedding, Andrews constructs a world, moreover, into which she draws us deeply, exploring this world's complex pressures on young people to meet and marry the right person, to display the family's success in suitable fashion, and to impress the world around them with their events. Its richly evocative atmosphere is the heart of this novel, and is the core of its strength.
This novel would be suitable for adolescent readers, but would also be a captivating story for all ages, particularly those who are interested in the world of the southern United States, or those who have not experienced the particular way of life that is depicted so richly in this novel.
Elizabeth Bondar