What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas–especially a lifelong feud between two rival chapels.
In The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt, sixteen-year-old Holly is left in charge of her late grandfather’s funeral. When a rival threatens to take away Holly’s favorite place in the world, it becomes a race against the clock to pay off the chapel’s loan. Things get more complicated, however, when Holly falls for the grandson of the rival chapel’s owner.
Before The Chapel Wars, I read one other Lindsey Leavitt novel and wasn’t that impressed. In Going Vintage, I loved the idea, but was underwhelmed by the execution. I struggled to read Going Vintage, but the plot of the Chapel Wars sounded really interesting, so I decided to give it a try despite my reservations. I was not disappointed because The Chapel Wars definitely exceeded my expectations.
I think my favorite part of The Chapel Wars was the overall concept. A single teenage girl and her divorced parents are forced to work together to save a dying chapel. I think the concept is very clever and unique for a contemporary book. Since the novel also largely surrounded Holly’s family, the family dynamics in the book were very well done and realistic. I really like when contemporary books extend beyond the romance, so I loved seeing Holly’s relationships with her grandfather, parents, and brother.
Another aspect of The Chapel Wars that I enjoyed was the setting. I liked a behind-the-scenes look at Las Vegas, especially its infamous chapels. I love how realistically Las Vegas was portrayed especially beyond the glitz and glamour that may overshadow other parts of its history. I think the author also realistically portrayed running a business in Las Vegas, even though the chapel was run by a teenager.
As for the relationship in the book, it was okay. Holly and Dax had plenty of cute moments and even though they had a little bit of insta-love, they also faced real problems in their relationship. Even though I liked their relationship, it is very similar to other relationships that I’ve read in young adult novels, so they don’t really stick out to me among other YA couples.
Even though I liked this book overall, I still have a few cons. Several characters in the book are extremely stereotypical, namely the grandfathers of the rival chapels. Holly’s grandfather is portrayed as a goofy, but honest businessman who treasures traditional weddings while Dax’s grandfather is portrayed as an all-around terrible person monopolizing on tacky Las Vegas weddings. Sometimes Holly’s grandfather came across as too cartoonish and Dax’s grandfather came off as too terrible (I mean I know he hated Holly’s grandfather, but what he did at the funeral was pushing it) that it often was unbelievable.
Another aspect that I wish could have been different was how Holly’s grandfather gave an emotional letter about Holly to Dax. It seemed very out of character for her grandfather to associate with the rivals at all and it also came across as unnecessary to the plot. Holly and Dax seemed to click without needing a letter to force them together. Even though I really liked the letter and wouldn’t want it to be taken out of the novel, I would have preferred if came from another character when Holly succeeded or failed.
Overall, The Chapel Wars was a fun contemporary. While I enjoyed this book, it wasn’t particularly memorable to me, so I give it three out of five stars.