On the surface, Olivia has it all: a high-powered career, a loving family, and a handsome fiancé. She even seems to be coming to terms with her mother Jane’s premature death from cancer. But when Jane’s final wish is revealed, Olivia and her elder sister Georgia are mystified. Their mother rarely spoke of her rural Southern hometown, and never went back to visit—so why does she want them to return to Huntley, Georgia, to scatter her ashes?
Jane’s request offers Olivia a temporary escape from the reality she’s long been denying: she hates her “dream” job, and she’s not really sure she wants to marry her groom-to-be. With her 14-year-old niece, Logan, riding shotgun, she heads South on a summer road trip looking for answers about her mother.
As Olivia gets to know the town’s inhabitants, she begins to peel back the secrets of her mother’s early life—truths that force her to finally question her own future. But when Olivia is confronted with a tragedy and finds an opportunity to right a terrible wrong, will it give her the courage to accept her mother’s past—and say yes to her own desire to start over?
◆ A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review ◆
When Olivia's fiancé takes action to initiate wedding preparations, Olivia gets scared and uses the excuse of scattering her mother's cremains in order to postpone plans. Nobody else can understand the feelings going through her, as Leo is a wealthy, hardworking man and everyone's dream husband. However, despite having a dream job and dream fiancé, Olivia isn't happy with her life. She doesn't know if she wants to continue her life on the path she's on and hopes that connecting with her mother's past will help her figure out what to do with her life.
Joining Olivia on the road trip is her fourteen-year-old niece Logan. Though Olivia isn't sure whether the road trip is driven by the need to find out about her mother's past or becasue she simply needs a convenient excuse to get out of her unhappy life, Logan is the first to understand her aunt's feelings and seems to understand Olivia better than Olivia herself. Thus, there is a role reversal in their relationship were Olivia acts like the teenager and Logan is the mature one.
Along the way, Olivia and Logan meet Elliott, the owner of the local newspaper in Huntley, Georgia. The two make a connection with each other, and with his help, she begins digging into her mother’s past and the history of the Southern town where she grew up. In the process, Olivia begins to answer the questions and self-doubts she has about her life, helping her better understand herself and what she truly wants.
Cancel the Wedding deals with themes of death, life, and self-identity. Not only does Olivia come to terms with her mother's history, she confronts who she is and who she wants to be. This is a great summer read. I recommend this to readers looking for a contemporary book that explores relationships and self-discovery.