Can you believe it? 10 days until Christmas! I don't know about you, but I am getting extremely excited about it! And I'm also super excited to welcome my friend from Resolution Corner to give us a guy's perspective on one of my very favorite Christmas romances, Let it Snow, by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. I read and reviewed this book last Christmas, and was delighted to find out that he enjoyed it as much as I did!
Romance is as much a part of the modern day Christmas with romantic films such as “The Holiday” or “Love Actually” as it is about the nice big guy in the red coat who delivers nice presents, snow (if you can get it), cheesy music and a good Gingerbread Latte.
As part of this thread for the month of December, I offered to read and review this book from three of THE hot YA writers around - Maureen Johnson, John Green and Lauren Myracle. “Let It Snow” is a book of three separate, but interlinked stories which takes place over one particularly snow affected Christmas.
The first story, “The Jubilee Express”, is written by Maureen Johnson and sees lead character Jubilee Dougal (you find out the origin of her unusual first name at the start of this story). Due to circumstances out of her control, she is forced to leave her ideal Christmas behind, including her boyfriend, Noah, and his family’s Smorgasbord party, to travel to Florida to spend Christmas with her grandparents. Along the way, the train in which she is travelling is halted by a snow drift just outside Gracetown and due to a series of circumstances, she is forced to spend Christmas Day in Gracetown with a boy named Stuart, along with his family, whilst being offered the chance to re-evaluate her priorities.
The second story, “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle”, is written by John Green. Tobin, the lead character of this story, along with his friends JP and The Duke are settling down to a James Bond movie marathon whilst Tobin’s parents are stuck at a medical conference. However, plans change when a phone call sends them on an epic quest in the snow with the promise of stranded cheerleaders, Twister and hash browns at the Waffle House. But what do you do when one of your party is a girl who doesn’t really like the idea of cheerleaders, the Reston brothers along with a group of college guys are trying to get there first and the only way to get there is your parents’ car?
The third story, “The Patron Saint of Pigs”, by Lauren Myracle centres round a girl by the name of Addie who has recently split up with her boyfriend because she cheated on him. It also features “Guardian Angels”, Starbucks (apologies for the unintentional plug, but one of the main locations is a franchise store of Starbucks - (Other coffee stores are available)) and tea-cup pigs.
I had already read books by Maureen Johnson and John Green earlier this year which meant that I had high expectations from this book. Thankfully, Ms. Johnson and Mr. Green along with co-author Lauren Myracle delivered with a fantastic romantic read which clearly aims towards the Young Adult market without excluding older members of the audience. (I can say this as a forty year old male).
It’s funny that I mention “Love Actually” because a friend of mine asked me in passing what I thought of the book and I said that it felt like the YA version of this film. The reason that I say this is that although all three stories could operate on their own, there are characters, both lead and supporting, who weave between all three of these stories who give the book as a whole a sense of community which makes sense as all three stories are predominantly set in Gracetown. There is also a clear passage of time created between the three stories as the first story being set on the lead up to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the second being set later on during Christmas Eve and into early Christmas Day morning and the final story being set during Christmas Day and Boxing Day. This helped me get to grips not only with the intricate storylines being weaved but the various relationships between all of the characters.
As I said above, the book is definitely written with the Young Adult market in mind from all three writers. They write three dimensional teenage characters who are not the surly, sulky stereotypes that you sometimes hear of in the media but people who have the same hopes, fears, loves and dislikes that we all do in day-to-day life, albeit with the emphasis on “loves” or male/female relationships - particularly for the three lead characters in Jubilee, Tobin and Addie.
Where this book clearly scored for me was the plotting. I don’t just mean the way that all three authors have combined to deftly plot a book where people and situations move within the three stories culminating in a fitting climax, but with the careful striking of a balance between humour, sometimes bordering on full on comedy, gentle drama and romantic warmth. As a reader, I never felt like one element outweighed the other two, which can sometimes happen. I felt that the humour felt realistic and intelligent without being goofy, the drama complimented the humour rather than working against it by being too dark, miserable or mawkish and the romantic elements not being too, for want of a phrase, mushy.
If I personally had to pick a favourite story out of the three, I would have to say that it would be John Green’s story “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle”. The reason for this isn’t that the story is written from a male perspective with Tobin being the lead character, it’s from the point of view that the story is more humour led rather than the more gentle drama led “The Jubilee Express” and the modern day moral fable that is “The Patron Saint of Pigs”. That said, all three are fantastic and dovetail into a wonderfully written payoff at the book’s conclusion.
In short, this is a book that doesn’t talk down to or patronise its target YA audience and gives teenagers some credit for wanting to read books with intelligence and “smarts” whilst being able to indulge the young at heart, such as people like myself, with a story where you were once of a more innocent age and love can come at times and places when you least expect it.
I gave this book five stars on Goodreads and it’s one that I’d happily recommend as a seasonal heart warmer. To go along with it, I’d recommend the following:
1. Put on some Contemporary Christmas related music - Examples: “A Very She & Him Christmas” by She & Him, “This Is Christmas” by Emmy The Great and Tim Wheeler or the soundtrack to “The Holiday” by Hans Zimmer. (Yes, I did listen to these albums whilst I was reading this book),
2. Get yourself a suitably warm Christmas drink such as a Gingerbread Latte or Hot Chocolate,
3. Sit by a nice open fire (or a fake one if you don’t have an open fire),
4. Finally, snuggle up in a nice warm blanker or duvet whilst reading.