The book starts off great. The prologue is filled with small historical flashbacks of news reports of Robina Willets, the murderer of her five children, her husband, and herself. It had police reports, funeral announcements and engagement announcements that were all tied to the Willet family and the Willet House. All this back history instantly grabbed my attention and gave me a feeling of mystery and suspense. In fact, it was so well done, I went searching for Editorial Notes to see if this was based on a true story. The Wedding Gift is told in the voice of Leeann Worthier, high school senior, local pagent queen, and self proclaimed prettiest girl in town. She tells what is currently happening in her life, such as preparing for her wedding and the birth of her child.
The following chapters continue, as she begins to reflect, on how she arrived to where she was. She flashes back, to when she met and got involved with George Willet, a twenty something, heir apparent to the family petroleum business. She wasn't attracted to him, but he treated her nice and bought her things, so she went with the flow. But, when she ended up pregnant...well, living in a small town, with a God fearing mother and protective father, she was pushed into marriage. Naturally, you can imagine, how her future mother-in-law handled things. Yeah, she was a snooty bitch, a real peice of work. "White trash","whore" and "gold digger" were definately mentioned on occasion. Of course, George was a mama's boy and in his eyes, mommy did no wrong. *rolls eyes* The story begins to move forward from after the wedding. If family issues, an unwanted marriage, her pregancy, and the return of a childhood crush weren't enough, Leeann begins to hear, see, and dream the ghost Robina Willets. Oh, can you guess what the wedding gift was? Yep, the Willet's House. So you can imagine, it wasn't happily ever after for the newlyweds. With the support of her family and friends, Leeann tries to cope with tragedy after tragedy...while trying not to go crazy like Robina Willets.
Truth be told, I didn't like Leeann. Some of the things she did in the book were very off-putting. I could almost understand, how the monster-in-law held disdain for her. Yet, at the same time, I believed Leeann's character. She felt real, crediable, and familiar to girls, I knew growing up in a small town. So in this, the author did a real good job at pulling out the emotions in me. I have read many reviews claiming how they loved Leeann's character. About how she was charming and witty. I failed to see it. I could see the author's attempt, but the execution fell flat for me. If anything, Leeann came off as self-centered, sarcastic and whiny. While, I didn't approve of her relationship with George, because of the age difference, I felt sorry for him. I do believed that he cared for her. Yet,the only time she even considered giving the marriage a chance, was when he bought her an expensive gift. But, it was only a breif consideration. I want to say that she was young, that there was character growth throughout the book, but I can't. When I closed the book, all I could do was shake my head. I really wanted to like her, and was glad at the outcome. But, I really really hated how she got it.
Overall, it was a good read, but a bittersweet one. I was hoping for a good supernatural mystery. Instead, I think the plot was lost in all of Leeann's rambling-ons and self-centeredness. I couldn't even digest certain events, because, Leeann made it all about her feelings instead. Events that most people would consider tragic, horrific, and pertinent to the plot, Leeann dismissed calluosly. Rarely, does a protagonsit piss me off, to the point, I just don't like her. That being said, Kathleen McKenna has a remarkable talent in making her characters not only crediable, but believable. Growing up in a small town myself, I thought her small town enviroment was spot on in realism, and it had a tinge of familiarity about it. I guess, it comes down to preference. If you are looking for a suspenseful supernatural story, then you might find this lacking in the suspense department, but if you like a good drama with a touch of the supernatural, then I think you will like it.