Saturday, November 07, 2009

Shelf Discovery Challenge Report: Sister of the Bride by Beverly Cleary

Barbara can hardly believe her older sister is getting married. With all the excitement of wedding plans going on, Barbara can't help dreaming of the day she will be the bride. She can't wait to fall in love.

But as the big day gets closer, wedding planning often turns into family arguments. Even the bride and groom are bickering over details, and Barbara's fun-loving sister is turning into a very practical, grown-up person. Weddings are fun, but all this serious stuff is scary enough to make Barbara think she's not going to be rushing into a serious romance any time soon.

First off, I just wanted to say this wasn't the cover of the copy that I read. Personally the one I read was too 80s looking and didn't fit the 60s storyline. I believe this is the original cover and I think it suits the book MUCH better.

I'm a huge fan of Beverly Cleary's books. I've grown up reading all her children's books. However I've only read one of her YA books in my life, Fifteen. I knew there were others but I just never got around to reading them. I have no idea why I avoided them. So when I saw this book in the Shelf Discovery book, I knew I had to read it for the challenge.

I seem to keep picking up all the books dealing with weddings now that my own wedding has passed. And it was really interesting to read how Barbara and Rosemary deal with this wedding. It brought back a lot of memories of my own wedding (I say that like it was years ago). Rosemary seems to think that everything is going to go exactly how she has in mind. She doesn't want gifts, thinks rings are for "middle class", wants to get married in a suit, will continue going to school and will depend on her future husband's job at the college. She even has planned to make burlap place mats because they are artsy and cheap. Meanwhile her sister Barbara sees all this going on and is trying to figure out her place in all this. She doesn't agree with what her sister is doing and at times feels more like she cares more about the wedding than Rosemary.

I feel like this book has aged well. While there are obvious differences in the way the world in the 60s were vs. how it is now, a lot of the topics mentioned in this book are still relevant. The biggest issue would probably be the role of women in the household. There are women in the book who grew up with the wife waiting on the husband hand and food. Rosemary and Barbara have ideas where they are equals in the relationship with the husband doing his share of the workload as well. Also Rosemary is getting married at age 18 to a 24 year old, so she's extremely young (she's still wearing braces!)

One thing I would have liked more of would have been more interaction with Rosemary's fiance Greg. He's barely in the story and I would have liked to have heard from him more and more of Barbara's view of him.

I REALLY enjoyed this book and was sad to see it end. I was a bit disappointed that my local library had decided to place this book in the juvenile fiction section along with Cleary's other books. Obviously whoever did this has NOT read the book, because this is clearly a YA book. I mean if I was an 8 year old that was enjoying Ramona and then picked up this or Fifteen, I would be very confused. I think it's sad how some authors have been type casted and cannot branch out because of what they are known for. If you haven't read any of Beverly Cleary's YA fiction, you MUST pick them up and this is a great one to start with. I think I'm going to go out and read Jean and Johnny and The Luckiest Girl.


  1. I have been trying to find this book at some used stores. I haven't had any luck, so I just reserved it at the library! I definitely want to read this one. I love how so many of the issues are still relevant! Great review!

  2. What a great review. I haven't read this book yet. I definitely have to add it to my list.

  3. I'm pretty sure I have this book. I had two Beverly Cleary YA books and I know one of them was The Luckiest Girl. I think this was the other! I really enjoyed both of them and always meant to get her other books aimed at older girls, but haven't. I should read them!

  4. Thanks for the great review! I've been glad to see some people discovering Cleary's YA books for the first time. As for why it's in your J section instead of YA--I'm sure it's just because when this book was written, libraries didn't have YA sections. Lots of books have never been reclassified. I did read this when I was very young and liked it, but liked it more when I was a teenager and "got" it.

    The Luckiest Girl is one of my favorite books of all time--I hope you'll post a review of that, too. And I enjoy Jean and Johnny very much, but some people find it too painful and awkward (the same reasons I like it).

  5. I love Beverly Cleary books too! After this review, I may have to change my Shelf Discovery list.

  6. Oh, you will love Jean and Johnny and the Luckiest girl!! I loved those books!!! Do you like Betty Cavanna too? I think it is sad that our library has gotten rid of them as they were great classic YA books......


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