Review: 'Ten Blind Dates,' By Ashley ElstonIt might seem early for a Christmas-themed book, but Ashley Elston's novel — about a girl whose overly involved family sets her up on a series of blind dates — is so delightful you won't mind.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed your Fall! If you blinked, you might have missed it. Yes, folks, the Hallmark Channel is primed and ready, the shelves at Michael's are fully stocked, and even in the publishing industry, the halls are decked for Christmas!
Okay. I know, I know. Before you roll your eyes so far back they fall out of your head, bear with me. We all understand that there is a limited release window for holiday-themed titles, and October is just the first wave of those. This way, book lovers have plenty of time to pick out the perfect stocking stuffer (or 12). And I am here to tell you right now that Ashley Elston's 10 Blind Dates should absolutely be on that gift list. In fact, buy an extra copy for yourself and read it as soon as comfortably possible. It is POSITIVELY DELIGHTFUL — all caps — from beginning to end.
The book opens on December 18th. Sophie's parents are off to a hospital in South Louisiana to spend the holiday with her dangerously pregnant sister Margot. Sophie herself is leaving to stay with her Nonna and the rest of her enormous Sicilian family in Shreveport. But first, she makes a pit stop at a party to get in some quality time with her boyfriend, Griffin. She arrives just in time to hear him lamenting their relationship and wishing he had more freedom during their senior year of high school. Sophie breaks up with him on the spot and heads straight for Shreveport.
After Sophie cries herself out, her clever grandmother makes an announcement: There are a good 10 days until New Year's (not counting Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), so to help Sophie get over her lackluster ex, members of the family will each pick 10 different guys for Sophie to go out with, on 10 different blind dates.
It's an absolutely ridiculous plan, of course, but Sophie's family instantly gets so into it that you can't help but be swept up in their enthusiasm. They fight over days, post elaborate charts, constantly try to outdo one another, and even bet on the outcomes. By the second date, when Aunt Patrice puts Sophie in a gown full of LED lights and conscripts her into playing the part of Mary in the local Living Nativity, I started laughing out loud and didn't stop until the end.
Elston breaks the unspoken rule of publishing that warns authors not to fill their pages with a cast of thousands, but you'll be too busy giggling to care that you can't keep all the aunts and uncles straight. I'll be honest, though, I did find myself wishing for some sort of family tree by the end. But as long as you've got a handle on the Fab Four (Sophie, her cousins Olivia and Charlie, and next-door-neighbor Wes) and the Evil Joes (Sophie's twin cousins Mary Jo and Jo Lynn), you'll be right as rain.
I was having an absolutely dreadful, anxiety-filled morning when I started reading 10 Blind Dates, and I have to say, it absolutely made my day. I can't guarantee that this book will do the same for you, but I dare you to try! When you're done with your pumpkin spice latte, of course.
Alethea Kontis is a voice actress and award-winning author of over 20 books for children and teens.