A girl from a devoutly Catholic family prays to as many patron saints as she can find, but she can’t find the one she needs when she becomes a junior bridesmaid for her shy cousin.
Mary’s family must move from their small Minnesota town, where everyone “is as white as bleached T-shirts,” when a large chain forces their family hardware store out of business. Mary’s dad is working an oil job in North Dakota, and she and her mom are staying with Mary’s grandmother in St. Paul for the summer. There, Mary meets next-door-neighbor Nick, a Vietnamese boy her age. When her cousin announces she’s getting married, Mary wants not only to be a good junior bridesmaid, but also to reconcile some difficulties she’s been having with her faith. When Nick, a Unitarian, casts aspersions on some of the tenets of Catholicism, Mary finds that she has some major lessons to learn. Tougas keeps the narrative just light enough for her target audience of middle graders even as Mary struggles with some pretty deep religious questions. She may have been the Minnesota Church Youth Group Member of the Year, but that doesn’t mean she is without flaws—a hard thing to admit.
Wedding-prep comedy balances serious questions of morality in this sweetly perceptive book. (Fiction. 9-12)