The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters. I couldn’t wait to read it! Inside the jacket flap reads, “An intimate look at a small-town bridal shop, its multigenerational female owners, and the love between parents and daughters during one of life’s most emotional transitions.” Written by Jeffrey Zaslow – a man. I’ll admit that I wondered what kind of insight this guy would have about women. But the author is a father of three daughters, and it seems that giving your daughter away at her wedding is traditionally the quintessential Dad moment. It’s the idea most people articulate when they learn my husband is the father of three daughters (but not, interestingly, when they learn I’m the mom of three daughters). “That’s three weddings!” they say to him. But that’s not what we say to our girls. We try to steer clear of hedging our hopes for them with, “when you get married,” or “when you’re a mom,” as if it’s expected. And our response is usually, “We’re not worried about paying for three weddings, but three college educations!” (The education is expected.)
It turns out, the idea of NOT getting married is gaining popularity, which is the kind of fact Zaslow weaves throughout the personal and emotional stories of a few brides to provide perspective on families, marriage and our culture over the past 75 years or so as seen before the backdrop of Becker’s Bridal in Fowler, Michigan.
I really fell in love with this book. There’s nothing quite so powerful as a parent’s love for their child. It touches all of us. We are shaped by the love our parents gave us – whether it was expressed in abundance or not at all. Each bride that stood in a gown on that pedestal in The Magic Room at Becker’s Bridal contemplated this as did every teary-eyed parent looking on. Would the man they are marrying be able to love them this way, too? As I read, I couldn’t help but think of my wedding dress – the first one – and how it was made with love by my mother.
Yes, I’ve been married twice. And if there is one criticism I have of this book it’s the sting of judgment I felt toward second (or third or fourth) marriages and women who were parents before they were brides – as if, maybe, they weren’t deserving of a beautiful, white dress. Perhaps that feeling is there because this book is about what we wish for our daughters and no one wishes the pain of divorce or the pressure of societal disapproval on their child. If you weren’t a traditional bride, that subtle shame-on-you vibe may sour the otherwise sweet love stories chronicled in The Magic Room. Still, they are moving and worthwhile to read. So is the story of Shelley, the fourth generation owner of Becker’s Bridal who has measured the pulse of our society by the flow of brides in and out of her doors over so many years.
I’d recommend this book to any parent. I’ve asked my husband to read it. Though we don’t expect it, the fact is that one day each of our daughters will likely choose someone to give their heart to – someone that will become the family they identify with. And I think this book offers great inspiration to parents on being their child’s first and lasting love.
Oh, P.S. Just so you know, I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.