If you like fun, contemporary middle grade novels, then A Patron Saint for Junior Bridesmaids may be the answer to your prayers.
In A Patron Saint for Junior Bridesmaids, Mary Margaret Miller becomes the junior bridesmaid for her cousin Eden’s wedding. After her family’s business shuts down and her parents are forced to look for work in another state, Mary is sent to live with her cousin’s family and her grandmother who is determined to give Eden the most spectacular wedding ever in only ten weeks. To help her deal with a mean bully, an anxious bride, and a grandmother who never takes no for answer, Mary needs a little help from her friends up above.
In its description, A Patron Saint for Junior Bridesmaids is described as a hilarious and heartfelt middle grade novel. Even though I didn’t laugh out loud as much as expected, I do agree that this book has enough humor mixed with heartfelt moments to make the book and enjoyable read.
First, I ‘ll begin with the positives. Mary Margaret Miller is a unique middle school character that I think would be relatable to many readers, even if they do not come from a devout Catholic family like Mary. Like many middle grade readers, Mary struggles with bullies, routinely arguing with her mother, and never expresses her true feelings. Mary also struggles with more complex issues, such as her religion. I really enjoyed this aspect of Mary because I feel like few characters in books not classified specifically as the religious genre even mention religion, let alone center an entire book around it.
The side characters in this book were also well done. Each had their own motivations and struggles which were apparent and carried the story along. Even though typical wedding events took place in the story, the characters really drove the story along. I loved seeing Eden grow as a person and Mary’s mother deal with very realistic struggles. Furthermore, the family dynamics in this book were so accurately depicted that the family felt very real and authentic.
Another positive that I found in this book was the religious aspect. First, when the book began, I was worried about the direction the book was headed. With going to Confession as punishment and the whole news story, It seemed like religion was only being depicted as having strict rules and regulations, people who practiced religion only experienced shame and guilt, and that religion itself was pointless. I was really happy to see that the author did not go in this direction. Instead, the author used the experiences of the various side characters to help Mary grow in her faith. It was also refreshing to see Mary defend her beliefs, even to her crush.
Another aspect that I enjoyed was the whole bully story with Brent Helzinski. At first, I was disappointed with what actually happened between the characters. With all the buildup, I expected a little bit more. Even though I was initially disappointed, I appreciated it more as I continued because the whole event helped both Mary and Eden grow as characters.
While I had many positives for this book, I also have a few aspects that I think could be improved. First is Mary’s crush on Nick. Even though I appreciated how many of their interactions were awkward like true young crushes, I didn’t really like much else and thought their relationship wasn’t necessary in the book. To me, Nick came across as too pretentious and sometimes even very disrespectful to Mary and her beliefs. While his purpose is to challenge Mary’s beliefs, sometimes I think his character went too far. To me, they didn’t seem compatible at all and his apology at the end never came across as sincere.
Another aspect of the book that I though could have been better was the humor. Maybe because “hilarious” was included in the book’s description, I expected to laugh out loud a little bit more. There were definitely some humorous scenes, but it didn’t really live up to my expectations.
Since I really enjoyed the characters and family dynamics in A Patron Saint for Junior Bridesmaids, but felt both Mary’s crush and humor were lacking, I rate this book four out of five stars.
I received A Patron Saint for Junior Bridesmaids as a free eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.