Welcome to day three of the "I Now Pronounce You Someone Else" Blog Tour!!
I'm stoked to offer you a review of this great book today and then later this week I'm going to have a guest post from the author, Erin McCahan, herself!
First, let me tell you about the book:
Eighteen-year-old Bronwen Oliver has a secret: She's really Phoebe, the long lost daughter of the loving Lilywhite family. That's the only way to explain her image-obsessed mother; a kind but distant stepfather; and a brother who has a small personality complex (he thinks he's Jesus). Bronwen must have been switched at birth, and she can't wait to get away from her family for good.
Then she meets Jared Sondervan. He's sweet, funny, everything she wants - and he has the family Bronwen has always wanted, too. She falls head over heels in love, and when he proposes marriage, she joyfully accepts. But is Jared truly what she needs? And if he's not, she has to ask: What would Phoebe Lilywhite do? (description taken from jacket copy)
This was a book that I connected with on several levels...Bronwen comes from a family that cannot openly communicate. Tragedy tore them apart and mother, sister, brother...never really drew back together for solace. I also come from a family where oftentimes appearance and politeness mask unaddressed issues. It is a very English thing to "put on the happy face" and not really talk about the things that are lying beneath the surface. When Bronwen's mother tells her that she looks beautiful as a blonde, and though Bronwen doesn't like dying her hair, but refuses to tell her mother that she'd like to be brunette like her father was...that totally struck a cord with me.
Even as Bronwen doesn't feel like she fits in with her family, she does not let that affect her ideals, her morals, or let anyone sway her from her beliefs...even if she's not sure how she came about them. She stands firm on her belief in not having premarital sex (which I thought was handled very well in this book - not at all preachy!) and when she decides a relationship isn't working, she stands firm though it may hurt to break up with someone. The times that Bronwen may not stand up for herself may seem incongruous with her character, based on my family history, I can totally understand. Even though Bronwen doesn't eat meat, she does with Jared's family, because she's been raised that it's the polite thing to do...she doesn't talk about family issues, because that's what she's been raised to do...those were all things that I was raised to do, and it takes time to break those habits.
As much as I related to Bronwen, what really struck me about this book was that it has a very refreshing, healthy outlook about relationships. Not just romantic ones, either, but families and friendships, as well. Bronwen, her Mother, and Stepfather have some major issues to address, but once they open up communication with each other, they become much closer and really get to know and understand each other. When Bronwen seeks a family that she thinks is much more "her," and she embraces the Sondervans, she witnesses a family that talks. Unfortunately, as she becomes more involved with them, she does a very typical thing and drops her bestfriend for her boyfriend.
It's not until Kirsten confronts her about it that Bronwen even realizes that she has neglected her friend. McCahan also addresses this very realistically, both in the problem in the first place, and in that there is no easy solution. When the girls begin college, their relationship is never quite the same. In fact, one minor complaint that I had about the book was that the end scene is Bronwen and Kirsten sitting in a cafe having coffee, which has always been their thing, reconnecting, only to have them interrupted with a romantic moment. It would have been better if the happy ending had happened outside the coffee shop afterwards.
I'm trying to be spoiler-free, so I'll only say that the romantic relationship in the book is more like real life than most. Where a lot of books are all about the happy ending and scorching heat and readers not caring how they stay in that moment afterwards, I Now Pronounce You Someone Else reaches the happily ever after moment and then plunges Bronwen into the morass of "what happens next?" that comes beyond. Things do not always work out. Real life can be a mess...but, if it's really meant to be, then it will happen. That is a message that I can really get behind.
I thought this was a really great read. I am very excited now to learn more about Erin McCahan's storycrafting process and I hope you will be, too, so keep your eye out for my followup guest post later this week!
If you are interested in checking out other stops on the INPYSE blog tour, stop by The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly to get the complete tour stop schedule!
Full disclosure: ARC provided by publisher for blog tour