Like many of the books I’ve read this year, I found The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa on NPR’s Best Books of 2020 List. This one didn’t end up being one of my favorites, but I remember reading it quickly and being entertained. Although there were a couple of problems with the book, there was plenty to like as well.
Carolina Santos, or Lina, is a first-generation Brazilian-American, and a fantastic wedding planner. Unfortunately, she’s just found out that she’s losing her office space for her business. Fortunately she has a chance to become the in-house wedding planner for the Cartwright Hotel Chain–a dream job with a dream salary. The one thing that Lina likes to keep quiet is that she was left at the altar. She feels it’s not a good story when working with potential brides.
When Lina arrives at her interview with the hotel chain, she runs directly into Andrew Hartley, the man who left her at the altar, as well as his brother Max, the man who encouraged Andrew to leave her. The brothers are also there for a potential job opportunity. They would like to be the new advertising agency for the hotel chain. Lina finds out that she is in competition with one other person for the wedding planner job. The hotel owner has decided to pair up Lina and Max on one team and put Lina’s competition with Andrew on the other team. They have about a month to come up with a strategy and advertising plan for the wedding planning business at the hotel.
Lina is hurt that Max would talk his brother out of marrying her when he barely knows her, and she’s still hurt by the whole wedding debacle. She has zero interest in working with Max, and she makes that clear. Eventually the two actually start working together, and then they start liking each other.
I liked that Sosa includes a lot of Brazilian culture in this book, including Lina’s close, extended family. It made it feel more real and more personal. I did have trouble with all the Portuguese in this book. I know enough Spanish to pick up the more common phrases, but the Portuguese was a little frustrating because I don’t even know how to pronounce it. I also appreciated the pressure Lina felt to succeed after seeing how hard her mother and aunts worked for her. I don’t remember too much about the romance between Max and Lina, but I remember thinking that Lina was initially too hard on Max when she really didn’t know what had happened. Max wasn’t the one who left her, after all. It felt a little overdone.
***SPOILERS?** Finally, I appreciated that Lina made the point that she always had to control her emotions because of the stereotypes of women of color. She never wanted to seem out of control or like the angry, black woman. However, when Lina eventually told Max the story of why she was no longer a lawyer, I sympathised with her bosses. It’s one thing to cry once in court. If they had fired her for that, it wouldn’t have been fair. But she messed up the exhibits, broke down when she discovered her mistake, and then was too distraught to ever fix her mistake. One of the basic requirements of going to trial is to have everything organized. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s how you recover from your mistakes that matters. If you become inconsolable and are unable to work everytime something goes wrong, then your coworkers can’t count on you to do the job. Wedding planning definitely seemed like a better fit for her–a place where she regularly faced unexpected adversity with ingenuity and wit. ***END SPOILERS***
You can find all my reviews on my blog.