Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah by Melody Carlson
David C Cook/September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-5891-9108-2/softcover/320 pages/$14.99
The B&B Media Group
Take a rope and tie a knot in the center and make sure that it is secure. Have two people on each end of the rope tug as hard as they can try to undo the knot and tear apart the rope. Friendships are like knots tied in ropes; they can come apart so easily and be torn into shreds. But, when the ties that bind friendships out weigh the frayed ends or the fragile parts, these friendships and relationships will last a lifetime. This brings me to my review of Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah by Melody Carlson. A book that goes far and above to make the reader understand relationships, friendships and the struggle to be accepted and loved.
Weddings are difficult to plan when it is only one. But, when this novel enfolds we meet four women that are trying to schedule two weddings around one that is already planned and hope they can come to a decision about the date and the place. Added to this one thirteen year old boy’s bar mitzvah taking place the same weekend and you know you will have conflicts in scheduling, family commitments that were already planned and promised to attend and total confusion and more.
Lelani, our first bride is trying to schedule her wedding in June at the same time as Megan her maid of honor is trying to make sure that her boyfriend Marcus’s sister’s wedding does not interfere with her maid of honor commitment to Lelani. Then we have Anna and Edmond who are supposed to attend his stepbrother’s bar mitzvah the same weekend in June and Kendall who has decided to join in and wants to get married the same day as Lelani.
To make matters even more difficult, we have several mothers whose no holes barred attitudes make the situation for each of the brides more difficult to deal with. One Latina mother who wants to run the show for Lelani and Eric and will do anything to make sure that her ideas are followed and heard. Then we have Kendall’s mother who makes Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest look like Carol Brady trying to make her feel inferior and critical of her every word and move. Added to that Lelani’s mother who will not renew their relationship and calls her selfish and spoiled but needs to turn the mirror around and look at the reflection of herself in order to know just who is selfish, spoiled and more. The only solution might be to bring in a mediator to listen to all parties and render a decision.
What I really love about this novel is the unique and creative way the author allows the reader to get to know and understand each character and how that character grows and evolves throughout the novel. Each chapter is devoted to one character and we learn how that character deals with difficult situations that they encounter both at work and in their family relationships. But, one thing that links all of them together is their friendship. Kendall’s mom and Anna’s mom are both overbearing and controlling. Kendall’s mom is often too critical and will not hesitate to belittle her in public in front of her friends making her feel small. Lelani not only has to deal with a mother who is uncaring and selfish but a future mother in-law- that does not realize just how much she needs to take a few steps back. Poor Anna, in the middle of not only helping Lelani with her wedding but having to tell her mother that her guest list has been cut and a co-worker who is giving her up to the minute reports about her boyfriend’s new found interest without realizing he still wants to be with her.
Appearances are not always what they seem and what makes this story really extraordinary is how the author interlocks and intertwines the lives of all of the girls, their families and God. Sometimes the unexpected even happens and the fears that you have about the future are not always in your hands but in that of God and what he has planned for you,
A circle has no beginning and no end as the friendships and relationships among these true friends will severe of come apart. Kendall and Lelani come full circle around when they meet the challenges that befall them when dealing with their families. Kendall’s family is not supportive of her or any of her choices. They belittle her and try to make her insecure. Lelani’ s mother does the same with her harsh appraisal of her, not ever realizing what an unselfish, caring and together person she is and how her friendship has tightened that knot in the center of the rope of friendship making it stronger. Anna learns the true meaning of friendship and love through Lelani and her mother who finally realizes that she needs to consider and understand the wants of others and not control every situation. She too comes full circle and learns to listen to Lelani and Gil’s feelings and her daughters when faced when dealing with the same attributes in her own mother. Added to this the lose of Kendall’s Nana who reminds me of my own mother who has Alzheimer’s and who is not in a nursing home but at home with care. I admire and respect what Kendall wanted to do having her Nana move into her home and take care of her. But, sometimes the unexpected happens and good things come out of difficult or sad situations. Resilent, is a word that fits all four of these remarkable women. Never giving up, listening and as Kendall’s Nana did: “teach us to use our imagination and to enjoy life.”
Will the two weddings on the same day bring about some more miracles and some new beginnings? Will everything turn out right for each of the four girls and their families? Will Megan have a happy ending with Marcus? Will Killiki come from Maui and sweep Kendall down the aisle? Will Anna and Edmond resolve their issues and start over? You need to read this heartwarming, refreshing novel that brought tears to my eyes at the end and a warm feeling in my heart. “God has used their friendships to tough them. He had truly knit their hearts together,” as the author, writes. The knot in the center of the rope of friendship became tighter and tighter so that it would not loosen and always keep their friendship whole. I think that everyone needs to read this book to renew their faith in family, love and relationships. As Lelani would say Mahalo: thank you for reading our story. Aloha.
I reviewed this book for bookpleasures.com