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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Book Review: Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley

So I loved Lucy Knisley's graphic novel memoir Relish, which means I dove into this one head first. I got married seven years ago and even though it was a pretty small wedding (I think we sent 30 invites, and most of those were for the reception), the planning was just as crazy as for a big wedding. It turns out it isn't any easier--you're just ordering smaller quantities of things, which therefore are much more expensive on a per-item basis. But you still need a dress, shoes, hair, flowers, cake, food, drinks, music, venue, officiant, everything. And it was horrid. I kept remembering my old friend Rachael who pushed the delightful and terrifying wedding memoir, Otherwise Engaged by Suzanne Finnamore on me when I was not even 25. Rachael was just a couple of years older than me but she was married, and she said reading Ms. Finnamore's book made her realize that wedding planning made everyone insane (which was also an eye-opening comment for me as Rachael was super prepossessed and organized and unflappable.)

And as you may expect, her wedding also made Ms. Knisley rather insane. First there was an interesting backstory with the relationship as she and John were on and off for years, but mostly on. They were only ever off for two reason--proximity, and a final realization that she really wanted kids and he really didn't. But even that breakup didn't stick. It seems John compromised (which is covered extensively in the memoir after this one, Kid Gloves) and one minute they weren't even dating and the next, they were engaged (which was a tad awkward to explain.) Then the wedding planning begins! As neither of them have much money and live in an expensive place (Chicago), they end up having the wedding on her mother's property in upstate New York, which is also convenient as he rmother is a caterer (but not catering Lucy's wedding) and works at the local farmer's market so she has friends who do flowers, that kind of thing. Also, supremely inconvenient as Lucy and John aren't there, and it means her mother wins a few more battles than she otherwise might have. Lucy and her mom fight a lot, for the first time in their lives (wow, what delightful teenage years she must have had!)

It's crazy, expensive, things go wrong, Lucy makes LOTS of crafts, her friends and family are delightful and also crafty, and yes, weddings are crazy-making no matter how laid back or super on top of things you are. If a wedding is even remotely in your future (I read Otherwise Engaged a solid 15+ years before I got married), you should read this (and that. Read them both. Cautionary tales are always helpful in my experience, particularly so if you read them before the events in question are upon you.) Also if you've ever had a wedding. Or been in a wedding. You will appreciate her honesty, humor, and relatability.

This book is published by First Second, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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