The Sweet, terrible, glorious year I truly, completely lost it
Lisa Shanahan

Delacorte Press
Hardcover/297 pages
ISBN: 978-0-385-73516-2
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". . . lessons about love and the difference between gloss and substance."

Lisa Shanahan’s The Sweet, Terrible Glorious Year I Truly Completely Lost It could easily be titled I Truly Completely Lost It At My Sister’s Wedding. Up until Gemma was forced to dress up as a swan for her sister’s wedding, she weathered the vagaries of her life fairly well.

Gemma Stone lives in a small village in rural Australia with her parents and older sister, Debbie, who decides to marry Brian, a young man she’s been dating for month. She is swept off her feet after he proposes to her amid the spices at the only market in the town (“Will you spice up my life and be my wife!”). “The Wedding” becomes the overriding event of the Stones’ life, and Debbie becomes Bridezilla commanding every minute of everyone’s lives on tasks for her wedding.

To get away from her sister’s obsessive wedding preparations and to get closer to Nick, an older boy she has a crush on, Gemma tries out for the school play, The Tempest. She sees this as her only chance to be near him, even though in the past she’s thrown up when she had to speak in public. Unexpectedly Raven, the “bad” boy of Gem’s class, also shows up making her wonder if her bestfriend Jody is right about him liking her. So, instead of spending all her time getting to know Nick, Gemma is dividing her time between them after she and Raven are paired up as practice partners before the actual try outs.

The book follows Gemma through the frantic few months of wedding preparations and play staging, months that teach Gem lessons about love and the difference between gloss and substance. The spare language and the occasional Australian slang might be a problem for some American readers, but the feelings expressed are easily understood by all.


Reviewer: Denise Lowe