Book Review

Planning Perfect

Planning Perfect

  • Author: Haley Neil
  • Genre: YA Romance
  • Publication Date: February 14, 2023
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury YA for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: racist microaggressions, anxiety

In this charming, heartfelt YA romcom about being on the asexual spectrum, a girl tries to craft the perfect wedding for her mother but discovers that sometimes the best parts of life can’t be planned.

Felicity Becker loves watching an event come together. Whether it’s prom, graduation, or just the annual Arbor Day school dance, there’s something magical about crafting an experience that people will remember. So when her mom gets engaged, Felicity sees the wedding as the perfect opportunity to show off her skills.

After Felicity’s long-distance friend Nancy offers up her family’s apple orchard as a venue, wedding planning gets even better. But the more time Felicity and Nancy spend together dress shopping and hunting for just-right mismatched china, the more it starts to seem like there might be something besides friendship between them. Felicity isn’t sure how she feels. As someone on the asexuality spectrum, what would dating even look like for her? And would Nancy be open to dating when Felicity doesn’t even know what she wants from a relationship?

Suddenly the summer is a lot more complicated. Especially when Felicity finds out that one of the wedding guests is an event planner with a prestigious internship available. Can Felicity wrangle her irresponsible mom, juggle her judgmental grandmother, figure out her feelings for Nancy, and plan the perfect wedding? Or will all of her plans come crashing down around her?

I have to admit that when I got approved for this book, I was so excited that I did a little happy dance. Her previous book, Once More With Chutzpah, was great, and I fully expected to love this one just as much. And I wasn’t let down. 

One of the things that I loved the most about this book was the way it gave more insight into being on the asexual spectrum. Felicity, the main character, identifies as ace-spectrum and biromantic, and while I have a basic understanding of asexuality, biromantic was a new term to me. The author does a great job of not only defining what these terms mean to the MC, but also exploring how they affect her and her relationships with others. I also especially loved that she’s a plus-size character, who despite struggling at times with her body image, also embraces it and is comfortable with her own unique style.

Felicity also struggles with anxiety and it manifests as a tendency towards pushing herself to perfectionism. She works with a therapist, and practices coping skills, but has trouble at times with boundaries and self-care, especially when she gets fixated on a project. And her summer focus of creating the perfect wedding for her mother and soon-to-be step-father creates a perfect storm for Felicity.

While I struggled at times with Felicity’s character, I did like seeing her grow and change throughout the book. It was frustrating to see her devolve in the middle section of the book, especially knowing that she was creating an implosion of her own making, but I had faith that she’d eventually come around. 

Nancy was a great foil for Felicity’s character. She’s sporty and laid-back while Felicity is uptight and everything that Nancy isn’t. While Felicity is single-mindedly focused on the wedding, Nancy pushes her to incorporate fun and self-care activities. It was cool to see the gentle way that she encourages Felicity to get outside of her comfort zone in a way that Felicity is able to accept, while still respecting her needs. Although Felicity has an innate need for control and structure, Nancy pushes her to go with the flow and learn to accept not being in charge of everything around her all the time. She was also supportive and respectful, giving her space when she needed it, and being there when she needed her. I thought it was a great example of a healthy relationship, whether it was platonic or romantic. 

At the same time, I couldn’t help but love Felicity’s unusual family structure. Her mother is unconventional, a total free spirit focused on family and a relative lack of structure, while Felicity seems to take on the parent role in a lot of their interactions. And while Eric, her mom’s boyfriend, isn’t Jewish, he manages to incorporate his own cultural traditions into their weekly Shabbat dinner, creating a merger of both of their heritages into a beautiful new tradition. 

Overall, this was a fun and light read, while still addressing more serious issues. It focuses a bit on anxiety, difficult family relationships, racism, and coming to an understanding of who we are and our own sexuality at a time when so much of our lives are changing, and defining not only who we are, but who we want to be. Nothing is unchangeable, even the things that we believe are stuck, and this book is a perfect example of that. 

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