Ava Larson is going to bring all the other brides to tears.
I Always Cry at Weddings is Sara Goff's delightful debut novel set in New York City. The story is a contemporary romantic comedy that's different to many other books in the Christian fiction genre. Ava comes across as a little shallow at the start of the story. She has spoiled princess moments, and she takes for granted the privileges that accompany her glamourous New York City lifestyle. We see Ava evolve and grow as the story progresses and her life circumstances become more challenging.
Ava has everything she could want from a financial perspective, and a bright future with a fiance who can provide a life of luxury and comfort. Her future mother-in-law adores her, and she is forced to deal with a very personal crisis as her wedding day draws closer.
We journey with Ava as she calls off the wedding and deals with the aftermath. Her life is no longer mapped out for her, and she struggles to regain her feet and find purpose. The urban setting is brought alive in the story, and the sensory detail draws the reader into the vibrant New York City setting. Ava's dating escapades have a realistic edge. We see the city through her eyes, including the good, the bad and the ugly.
Ava's faith journey is not really apparent until later in the story. The spiritual content is subtle, and Christian themes of social justice are infused in the story. The large majority of the characters don't hold Christian values and beliefs. As a result, the story includes situations that we don't often see in Christian fiction stories that are populated with Christian characters. Conservative readers may be offended by some of these situations. The characters make mistakes and have to live with the consequences of their poor judgment. Ava is at times naive, and she's also determined to take some big risks to achieve her goals.
The characterisation is excellent and the story contains strong romantic elements. The minor characters add additional layers to the story. I was intrigued by Chris, a homeless man who slept outside Ava's apartment complex on a flat cardboard box with his dog for company. The story has humorous moments and twists and turns that kept me guessing and led to a satisfying ending. I highly recommend this book to readers who are looking for realistic and entertaining contemporary Christian fiction in an urban setting that tackles social issues.
Learn more about Sara Goff and her books at her website.