Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Released: June 1st, 2010
Grade rating: B+/A-
Here Comes the Bride -- If She Can Pass Chemistry.
Eighteen-year-old Bronwen Oliver has a secret: She's really Phoebe, the lost daughter of the loving Lilywhite family. That's the only way to explain her image-obsessed mother; a kind but distant stepfather; and a brother with a small personality complex. Bronwen knows she must have been switched at birth, and she can't wait to get away from her "family" for good. Then she meets Jared Sondervan. He's sweet, funny, everything she wants -- and he has the family Bronwen has always wanted too. She falls head over heels in love, and when he proposes marriage, she joyfully accepts. But is Jared truly what she needs? And if he's not, she has to ask: What would Phoebe Lilywhite do?Review:
I loved this book. I read it in one sitting, and even teared up at a few particularly emotional scenes. It takes quite a lot to make me shed a tear (FYI, World War II stories *really* do me in), but somehow debut author Erin McCahan managed it. I'm putting all the blame on Bronwen being so well written -- yep, it's definitely her fault.
McCahan's writing is tip-top. It flows, it's laced with humour and snark, and it just plain ROCKS. By the end of the book I felt like Bronwen was my BFF and that, these days, also seems hard to do. As a 17-year-old girl, she's everything you'd expect. She doesn't fit in with her seemingly perfect family, she has hang-ups, yet she doesn't really seem to care. Now, that's my kind of girl! She thinks the explanation for her differences is that she was switched at birth, and that her real family is out there somewhere. Unlikely and random, but an endearing notion nonetheless.
When Bronwen ends up dating Jared, a college student with a fantastic family, her whole life changes. She gets everything she ever wanted, and learns just what it means to be Someone Else. She sees life in a different light, and starts experiencing things she otherwise wouldn't have. She lives the normal-but-intense romantic relationship, and all is going to plan. As we all know, real life doesn't run that smoothly, and Bronwen soon finds herself with some serious decisions to make. McCahan approaches this side of the story well, and puts a mature spin on Bronwen's somewhat adult problems. Marriage isn't tackled much in YA, but it's a topic that lends itself to the genre incredibly well. If done right, like it is here, it can be just as suited to a young adult audience as the saga of a first relationship. I wasn't expecting that, but was pleasantly surprised.
I Now Pronounce You Someone Else might sound like quite a heavy, unusual read, but it really isn't. It's atypical, yes, and also slightly far-fetched, but it's also light and funny and warm. I finished it feeling uplifted, and its tone reminded me of the kooky film (500) Days of Summer. This one's a great read for fans of contemporary YA, as well as those readers who like their romance with a dash of realism. I want a sequel!
I'm curious, what inspired you to write I Now Pronounce You Someone Else?
(This answer is plagiarized from myself, but—no, wait – I give myself permission to copy me, so – whew – now I don’t have to sue myself. My editor asked me this very question on her blog, and I’m being lazy about re-writing the answer.)
This book began when three unrelated concepts collided. Well, bumped into each other, anyway.
1. Years ago, I gave myself the alias Phoebe Lilywhite because it sounds English, which I wish I were for the accent, and it sounds like the name of someone, like me, who has never been tan in her life.
2. I have a shameless fascination with weddings. Tacky. Elegant. Shotgun. I don’t care. I love them all.
3. I always wanted to write something about my step-dad, who died before I ever told him how much I loved him.
So – Phoebe Lilywhite, weddings, and step-dad percolated and became I Now Pronounce You Someone Else.
Where did the unusual name Bronwen come from?
A friend of mine from high school is named Bronwyn, so the name sounds perfectly normal to my ears, but I’m hearing from lots of readers that it’s new to them. I happen to love it. The book’s Bronwen is not based on my friend Bronwyn. I just like the sound of the whole name Bronwen Oliver. And I like the difference in sounds between Bronwen and Jared.
Were any of the book's somewhat kooky characters based on real-life people?
Based on? No. But I did take traits and quirks from people I know and incorporate them into my fictional characters. For example, my own grandmother once asked if lightning could freeze. I tweaked that and applied it to the fictional grandmother as a belief that lightning can freeze.
If you could be Someone Else, who would you be and why?
I’ve never actually wished to be Someone Else. I’ve wished to be more like Someone Else – lots of Someone Elses, actually – and still do on occasion, but, no, I never wished to be Someone Else entirely.
What are your two favourite places in the world?
Boston and any of Michigan’s beaches.
Will there be a sequel to Bronwen and Jared's story? (If there are no plans to write one, can we bribe you with the secrets to room mate questionnaires?)
It’s so nice when people ask if there will be a sequel to this, so, thank you for asking. Actually, it’s more than nice. It’s a wonderful compliment to an author that someone remains interested in her characters after the last page of the novel – so interested that they want to know more. I appreciate that with all my heart, but, no, I have no plans to write a sequel – even though the bribe is tempting!