Greetings, Katy Lee here. Every now and then we pick up a book that catches us by surprise and alters our jam-packed schedules into an impromptu pajama day. Well, this past week, A WEDDING INVITATION invited me to do just that.
Although, I have to be honest, when I received Alice J. Wisler’s latest release from Bethany House, I took one look at the cover and thought fluff. Just another wedding romance cliché. Even so, I started the book thinking I would get through a few chapters before bed. Next thing I knew it was 3AM.
I was hooked on this genre-breaking piece. I kept flipping back to the cover, wondering if I was reading a romance or women’s fiction or mystery or something else entirely. It didn’t fit any mold I had ever read, and I wondered why I found it so enthralling.
Obviously the deep POV (point of view) was what hooked me to keep reading into the wee hours of the morning. Wisler’s prose makes you feel as though you are right there in the story. But it was the actual story itself that had me filled with an emotion and concern for a people and topics I had never given a second thought to.
Now before I tell you about the story, let me tell you a bit about what influenced the author to write it. According to the Author Page in A Wedding Invitation, Alice J. Wisler had once received an ornate wedding invitation in the mail. Only it wasn’t for her. It was addressed to the previous homeowners. But ever since she received that invitation, she wondered what going to the wrong wedding would be like.
As cute as that plot line sounds, I don’t think the actual wedding was what this book was about. But rather, I think it was about the invitation itself. Because of her role as a former teacher of the unwanted half American/ half Vietnamese children (Amerasians) at a Philippine Refugee Processing Center in the mid-1980’s, Wisler seems to understand how people have a need to be accepted; a desire to be a part of something. The feeling of being specifically sought out and invited to something is huge. And I think she understands this well because she witnessed it from the front of the class in those dusty school rooms filled with children waiting for their invitation to belong.
Okay, so with that in mind, here’s the storyline from the back cover: After returning home from teaching in a refugee camp in the Philippines, Samantha Bravencourt enjoys her quiet life working at her mother’s clothing boutique near Washington D.C. When she receives an invitation to her friend’s wedding in Winston-Salem, NC, she’s excited to reconnect with her college pals. But the wedding turns out quite differently than Sam expects. A chance encounter leads to a reunion with Carson Brylie, a fellow teacher and the man who once broke her heart, and Lien, a young Amerasian girl who desperately needs Sam and Carson’s help. But working with Carson might put Sam’s tender heart at risk once again. Is she willing to forgive the past and take another chance on love?
A Wedding Invitation is a work of fiction, but Wisler has taken what she knows from those refugee classrooms and interwoven a heartfelt romance between two people who also share, along with many other quirky characters, that desire to belong. The heroine and hero, Samantha Bravencourt and Carson Brylie are like real everyday people, filled with strengths and weaknesses, successes and faults. I enjoyed watching their story unfold little by little, getting a clearer picture of the type of people they really were…and feeling their pain along the way. When it comes to tugging at the heart strings, Wisler has a gift for making the reader feel the same emotions the characters are. The emotions and the characters hop off the page right into your heart.
The Unlocked Secret: I’m taking a page from Alice J. Wisler’s book and giving you all a place to belong. Today I give you your very own invitation. You are invited to come back anytime and hang out with us Scribes. Consider this a place where you belong.
Question: What’s the strangest invitation you’ve ever received?