After that brief glance at Barnes & Noble, I started a frustrated search for these books, always disappointed until the miracle of Amazon came along, which made it easy for me to acquire the series.
The Beany Malone books are about the Malone family (mainly the youngest daughter, Catherine Cecelia, aka "Beany") but the other siblings, Elizabeth, Mary Fred, and Johnny, are important characters. Their mother is dead and their father, Martie Malone, is a newspaper columnist. The family lives in Denver and the books are set in the 1940s and '50s. They're relentlessly wholesome, but the series as a whole touches on some serious issues: war, death, poverty, classism, delinquency, crime, and domestic abuse. The modern reader might bristle at the occasional fat-shaming and cringe at the ethnic stereotypes from when Beany starts working at Lilac Way, a community center that serves mostly immigrant children.
When the story opens, there are only two months until the wedding and Beany is disappointed that no one in her bustling family is showing much interest in her wedding plans. To make matters worse, their roof springs a leak, so any money that might have been spent on the wedding is eaten up by a new roof.
Enter Nonna, the Malone kids' step-grandmother, who stops in Denver one night on her way home to Kansas City. Nonna appeared as an elegant, snobbish, coldhearted villain in an earlier book in the series, and Beany claims to loathe her. Nonna had been an interior decorator, but at dinner she announces that she has just launched a new career for herself as--OMG you'll never guess--a wedding planner.
With Nonna in charge, the wedding quickly assumes a monstrous scale. Beany begins to have misgivings. How can she expect her friends and sisters to shell out for the expensive bridesmaid dresses that Nonna has chosen? How can she let her beloved priest know that she will be married in the cathedral, rather than her parish church? How can she tactfully prevent the rough-edged Lilac Way kids from participating? The groom (I don't want to reveal his identity and spoil the whole series for those of you who might want to read it) is unhappy. He doesn't like being dictated to by Nonna, he's offended when Beany turns down his mother's offer of her prized roses for the wedding, and he definitely doesn't want to force his groomsmen to buy tuxes.
Despite the misgivings, Beany doggedly insists that she would like to have ONE day that is entirely hers, in which she is the star of the show, rather than a helper in the background. Can't everybody just go along with her this one time? Beany's friends and family, because they love her, do their best to play along, but a serious rift develops between Beany and her fiance. How she escapes the wedding juggernaut is a neat little plot twist that I wasn't expecting.
I really enjoyed this book. I'd count it as among my favorites in the series. It also got me thinking about the circus that the modern wedding has become. Beany's cathedral wedding seems simple compared to the extravaganza weddings of today. With two daughters who will be probably be getting married sometime in the next ten years, I'm starting to worry about this. The whole point of Something Borrowed is that a wedding is supposed to be a joyful event in which the bride and groom share their happiness with their loved ones and should not bring stress and unhappiness to those involved. I'm hoping that when my daughters get married, we can escape the overdone wedding trend and still provide an event to remember for our friends and family.
There is only one book in the series that I haven't read yet--Come Back, Wherever you Are. A used copy is on its way from Amazon and my newly Kon-Mari'd bookshelf has a space waiting for it. The whole series is highly recommended for those of you who like vintage teen lit.