Clearing the Aisle
Downtown Press, 2004 (2004)
Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas
achel Silverstein and her boyfriend, '
the love of my life Dan Gershon
' get engaged. They begin their wedding preparations almost six months in advance of the big day. Even that doesn't seem long enough - while all the myriad details that go into arranging a wedding are exhausting in themselves, things are further complicated by money issues and the never-ending bickering between Rachel's bitterly divorced parents.
dd to this some not-so-helpful friends, unprogressive in-laws and other issues, and even the solid and loving relationship between Rachel and Dan begins to show signs of strain. Rachel is also not very happy with her comfortable but stagnant career as a writer of young adult books, while Dan is feverishly preparing for his medical studies. Jewish traditions are explored in full, as are details of living in New York that are sometimes beyond the comprehension of outsiders. With all this madness, is it inevitable that Rachel morphs into Bridezilla? Will she have the wedding of her childhood dreams? Will Rachel and Dan even make it to the altar, let alone to
happily ever after
narrative is humorous, cutting and heartrending, all at the same time. Rachel not only analyzes living in New York and Jewish traditions, but also the extremely complex machinations of the Silverstein family. All her unemotional analysis doesn't help a whit as wedding preparations drive her mad. Dan's stolid behavior is alternately exasperating and praiseworthy. Schwartz has a curious style of emphasizing the differences between the lead characters, which reveals how much a person's upbringing affects their actions and thoughts, and also acts as the basis of mutual attraction.
unny and in-depth, Schwartz's narrative is sure to evoke memories and nostalgia in anyone who's ever been involved in a wedding, let alone a Jewish one.
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