Saturday, September 1, 2007

Taking the Plunge

Taking the Plunge
Written by Stacie Lewis
Snowbooks, Ltd.
Reviewed by Nancy L. Horner

Bernie couldn’t marry the discontent of her mother with the absolute conviction that she should spend her life with Sam. The more she thought about it, the more out of control she felt.

“You need to put this behind you,” Sam told her.

“How?” Bernie’s sullen depression made her feel the impossibility of any resolution.

Sam said, “You could move on, focus on something good. There is still our marriage to consider. Don’t we deserve a celebration?”

To Bernie the gulf between her actual feelings and the idea of celebrating stretched further than the Atlantic Ocean. Her marriage, the important part, the rest of her life with Sam, lay even further. She thought of nothing else but jumping through the hurdles of the wedding. Rationally, she knew it would pass, but in the here and now, it felt like her whole world.

Taking the Plunge is the story of Bernie, a young woman facing significant obstacles as she prepares for the wedding of her dreams. Bernie didn’t expect to fall in love when she traveled to England. In fact, at first, she thought of Sam as a very good friend. But, as their relationship grew and she was deported for overstaying her visa, it became plain that she no longer wanted to live without him.

As the start of their engagement, Bernie anticipated the fairy tale wedding of her dreams. Instead, parents and step-parents bickered and tried to one-up each other or make each other look cheap, Bernie’s mother tried to talk her into buying a used dress from a gigantic warehouse in a barn, and her American family stubbornly insisted the Detroit wedding would be alcohol-free--an unfathomable thought for the Welsh in-laws and a groom for whom the toast was a way of thanking those who traveled overseas. And, then, Bernie’s mother had a major temper tantrum that should make just about any bride’s experience pale by comparison.

Stacie Lewis kept an online diary during her engagement and then turned her experience into a novel; and, it was Bernie who took on the role of Stacie in Taking the Plunge. I was completely confused, when I began to read the book. The publicity material I read in advance of receiving the book led me to believe the book was an autobiographical account rather than a fictional retelling. After flipping the book over several times to verify that it did, in fact, say “fiction” and confirming that Bernie was the fictional version of Stacie, I began reading and became even more baffled as the author periodically inserted herself into the book via “Wedding Truths” at the end of each chapter.

It never became any less clumsy halting for a bit of wisdom written by the author. Structurally, it’s just a little too jarring to go from third-person fiction to first-person non-fiction and back after every single chapter. However, the story itself is enjoyable. Anyone who has been married and experienced some degree of lost control to parents or in-laws is bound to nod with understanding, at times, sometimes gasp in surprise. Taking the Plunge tells a more dramatic tale of wedding-preparation horror than most, as feuding parents and step-parents sink to mouth-dropping depths of childishness. I found myself reading an occasional passage aloud to my husband, muttering, “Can you believe that?”

Fortunately, the “Wedding Truths” and the couple’s determination help to give the story a level of sanity. It’s only a wedding, they occasionally remind each other. The actual marriage is what counts.

I’d highly recommend the book for any bride, if only to help maintain perspective. Regardless of the reader’s marital status, Taking the Plunge is a fun read, much in the Chick Lit vein, with light and dark moments, plenty of humor and interesting characters.

You can see Stacie’s Wedding Diary, here:

Stacie’s website:

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