On the shelf: ‘The Magic Room …’ by Jeffrey Zaslow

By Amy Cochran, GRPL Seymour Branch

The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for our Daughters is a story of eight different brides and how they came to be looking for their dresses at Becker’s Bridal, a shop in Fowler, Michigan, that has been open since 1934.

I enjoyed reading about how Grandma Eva added a few wedding dresses to her in-laws’ general store and over the years slowly transformed the store into a bridal shop. As Eva passed the business to her son and daughter-in-law, and they passed it on to their daughter and granddaughter, every generation of owner has had to keep up with changing trends and buying patterns of brides and their families. They have also struggled with the price of pouring their hearts and time into keeping the family business alive and prosperous.

Zaslow intersperses the story of the shop with tales of brides whose journeys to marriage are not easy. There is the young woman who is in a debilitating car accident a week after getting engaged. There is the woman who lost her mother several years before and leans on her grandmother for comfort. And the woman who lost her first beloved husband to a heart attack and has now found a new man to share her life with, much to the dismay of her four daughters.

And the magic room? An old bank vault that current owner Shelley Becker-Mueller has turned into a softly-lit viewing paradise for finding the perfect dress.

This is an inspiring and interesting read with local flavor, since several of the brides are from Grand Rapids. The details Zaslow relates about specific relationships between mothers and daughters and fathers and family are truly heartwarming. And there is extra poignancy in the fact that the author, who talks about his own daughters and his hopes for them throughout the book, was lost in a tragic car accident just this past winter.