Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens on May 6, 2014
Reading Challenges: 2014 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2014 Review Pile Reading Challenge, 2014 Standalone Reading Challenge, 2014 YA Contemporary Challenge
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Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?
And then there's Grandpa's letter. Not only is Holly running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money—fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family's mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and... Dax. No wait, not Dax.
Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there's a wedding chapel to save.
“‘We’re all messed up,’ I said. ‘I think life is just about finding the right people to be messed up with.’”
“‘I wonder what happy even means.’ ‘Maybe happy isn’t forever. Maybe it’s just moments, and you save them up and hold on for all the in-betweens.’”
When I first read the synopsis for this novel, I thought that it was unique and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
The Chapel Wars tells the story of Holly, who inherits her grandfather’s ailing wedding chapel after his death. However, the chapel is failing fast—something that her grandfather had kept secret. Her grandfather leaves a letter and insists that she reaches out for help from Dax—the grandson of his arch enemy. But Holly is intent on one thing—saving her family’s chapel.
The Chapel Wars was definitely a unique novel for me. For one, I had never read a novel about wedding chapels! I actually really liked this concept, because it was able to pull in settings and situations unlike anything that I’ve ever read before. It was full of turns and funny events as Holly worked her way up to save her grandfather’s chapel. It didn’t have quite the ending that I was expecting, which made it that much more enjoyable for me as I was unable to correctly predict the ending. It was an interesting read that kept my attention from the first to the last page.
“I couldn’t think how to reply. I was finding that to be a problem with Dax, that my pauses were a little longer, because everything he said surprised me. I didn’t talk like this with guys I dated, not about things that were actually interesting. Compatibility had never been standard for me. Now a guy I really, really wanted to date came around, and I saw all the cracks in my system.”
Holly was the main character. She was very realistic to me. She was just sixteen and taking on a business, but she had a level head about her. She didn’t want or let anything come between her and her goal. She was optimistic and did everything that she possibly do to attain her goal of saving the chapel. I just really enjoyed her character overall. She was very well written.
“‘So that’s it,’ I said, resigned. ‘You’re Team Cupid’s Dream.’ He touched his forehead to mine and whispered. ‘I don’t want it to be team chapel. I just want it to be team us.’”
I also enjoyed Dax’s character. Dax is the grandson of the rival chapel’s owner across the street. But contrary to that set up, he wasn’t evil himself. He had a past that he was working through and wanted what was best for his family as well. He was kind and loving and giving, and he didn’t just use Holly. He had a good head on his shoulders.
“We glowed at each other. Beamed. Radiated. I did not know that like could be like this. Like love, just not fully realized. I did not love this boy, because to love someone is to know them. But every moment I was with him made me happy, and every moment I wasn’t with him, a small piece of me wondered where he was and what he was doing, like there was a satellite in our hearts.”
The romance in this novel was a focus, but not a big one. I think that it perfectly accented the main plot. I loved that it had that forbidden romance feel to it. Those types are my favorite and Leavitt aced the test. Dax and Holly, I feel, were great complements for each other’s personalities and that showed in their interactions. But what I loved best was that they were not perfect. They had fights and differences, mostly arising from the fact that they worked for rival chapels. But beyond all this, in the end they didn’t let it ruin them. And I loved that.
The Chapel Wars was set in the city of Las Vegas. This is another thing that stood out to me in this novel. The world building was phenomenal. The fact that Leavitt lives in and was familiar with the city was extremely evident in this novel, which made the setting, and thus the book, that much more realistic. I loved getting glimpses into the parts of Vegas that Leavitt so obviously loves, especially never having visited myself. It made for a more interesting reading experience.
The Chapel Wars was a great novel overall. If you’re looking for an interesting, unique, and realistic contemporary read, then this is definitely the one for you.