Charlie is the youngest of five siblings, and her life is in chaos. Her parents are selling the house she grew up in, she’s about to go to college, and all her siblings are coming home for her older sister’s wedding. Including one sibling that no one has seen for eighteen months. To cap it all off, Charlie’s mom is a renown comic strip artist, and her 25 years of writing about her family in the daily newspaper comic strip is coming to an end the same weekend as the wedding. And then the wedding planner disappears, leaving everything undone, mixed-up, and in chaos.
As usual, Morgan Matson doesn’t pull any punches. There is a lot packed into this book, which takes place over a single weekend. Most of it is tied up in family relationships and the way those change over time. The rest involves a coming of age story of how we see our world and how it changes (and the people in it change) as we grow, whether or not we want it to. These things would be fairly ordinary, except that they occur over a backdrop of family (and neighbor) feuds, a live TV special coming to interview the family for the end of the comic strip, and the chaos caused by the wedding planner’s disappearance. If it could go wrong, it did. Weddings are already high-stress (ditto selling a house, seeing a family member for the first time in eighteen months, dealing with press, etc), so to put all these things alongside each other makes all the flaws and realities of family bonds come to light. And as I said, Matson didn’t pull punches. There is a lot of gut-wrench in this book.
I personally love books about big messy complicated families, especially when all the extended families get to come along for the ride. This was exactly the book I needed after a long reading slump. It’s my third experience with Matson and I will continue to read her books because she has yet to disappoint.