Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else, by Erin McCahan

Erin McCahan
Arthur A. Levine Books
Borrowed from library, read for Cybils
Bronwen, as she tells us in her very first sentence, was switched at birth. She quickly goes on to tell us this is just a fantasy of hers, but...after meeting the rest of the family, her mother in particular, we have to ask...are you sure that's all it is? From eating habits to hair color (which her mother actually has her dye so it matches hers!), they couldn't be more different - and not in the "gosh, we're all different but we're just one big happy family" sort of way, but in the "what planet did you come from?" kind of way.

At any rate, Bronwen does not feel that she belongs in her current family, and we gradually get enough back story to understand that thoroughly. She remembers a time when things were better, and longs to be part of a close, open family once again. When Jared enters the picture and she is welcomed with open arms by his family, it looks like she will finally get what she has wanted. When he asks her to marry him, everything seems perfectly set up for her happily ever after.

Major shocker of the book: nobody is pregnant. Yes, we know, you just laughed, but think about it - how many YA books can you think of where a teenager gets married, and not only is nobody pregnant, but nobody is having sex? Nobody is a runaway, nobody is abused, there is no huge tragedy forcing them into marriage as the only option. Once they get over their surprise, the parents on both side are happy and supportive. Refreshing, isn't it?!

Of course, if everything worked out perfectly, this would be a really boring story. Instead, it works out realistically. Even really good, sensible plans can be far from perfect. Even being in love - really, truly in love - doesn't ensure a happy ending. And we. loved. the. ending.

We also loved the characters. Bronwen has a snappy wit and an intelligent, perceptive outlook. Jared is just dreamy, but not in an over-the-top unbelievable way (after their first date? The call? yeah, Miss Ami swooned.) There is some strong character development in Bronwen throughout the book, as while as the issues of family, communication, planning for the future, discovering a sense of self - all deep issues covered in a very light and easy read. Hand it to any teen (or adult!) girl you know (boys might enjoy it too, but wouldn't be caught dead holding a book with that cover.) We give it a strong

5 out of 5.

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