So Happy For You by Celia Laskey

So Happy For You is a darkly comic novel about a maid of honour who has to try and survive the wedding—literally. When Robin’s childhood best friend Ellie asks her to be maid of honour, she wants to say no. She doesn’t believe in marriage, which has become a desperate industry in America due to hugely declining rates of marriage and skyrocketing divorce, and doesn’t want to deal with straight-people rubbish when she could be at home with her partner, Aimee. When Robin says yes, she hopes this will mean Ellie won’t go in for any of the strange rituals that have become part of weddings, but as celebrations begin, it seems that Ellie will do anything to get her perfect day.

I wasn’t a fan of Laskey’s previous novel Under The Rainbow, but the wild summary of this book made me want to read it, and it certainly was quite a ride. Told from Robin’s first person perspective, you immediately know that she and Ellie will try to kill each other. A lot of the book is building up the characters, telling the story of Robin and Ellie’s friendship intercut with the journey to the actual wedding ceremony, including a bridal shower and bachelorette that show Ellie might be taking things a little far, and meeting the other members of the bridal party (though by the end, they fade into the background). This all means that by the end, with a few moments of tension (like Robin’s nut allergy that suddenly appeared as a plot point), you know something is going to happen, and the book is just drawing out getting there.

The big centre of the book is the idea of weddings, and what would happen in a slightly alternate version of America in which weddings starting going out of control as people become desperate for marriages to work out (think gender reveal parties that start wildfires or cause deaths, but for weddings, basically). Robin is writing a thesis on this whole turn of events, which provides motivation for actually going to Ellie’s wedding, and also has opinions on weddings and marriage that will chime with a lot of queer people, even without this somewhat-extra version of what weddings might become. The whole concept of wedding traditions and what they mean to a marriage is satirised, though marriage itself comes out okay, with a sense that maybe Robin hasn’t given Ellie’s fiancĂ© a chance, and her self-righteousness and anger maybe doesn’t always come from a good place. Despite being a satire of wedding culture in many ways, So Happy For You isn’t really saying anything new about weddings, other than pitting two extremes of idea against each other, but it presents a funny picture of what people might do and offers an entertaining ride that feels like a fairly regular comedy up until the parts when it becomes darker.

If I’m honest, I might’ve expected the book to go a little darker or weirder (probably saying something about my taste in literature), or to have sustained the threat for a bit longer (the ending feels like a ridiculous thriller, with the kind of drama I used to like in Point Horror books as a child, but much of the rest of it is build up without danger). However, I like the ridiculousness of the premise and the flaws of both Robin and Ellie, and this is a fun, trashy read that asks what if instead of mocking bizarre traditions involved with life events that society deems worthy, you were drawn into a deadly version of them?