Monday, December 15, 2014

Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle | Book Review

TITLE: Let it Snow
AUTHOR: John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle
PUBLISHER/YEAR: Speak / 2008
SOURCE: Purchased 


An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today's bestselling authors - John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle- brings all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

I love picking up a book around this time of year to help get me in the Christmas spirit. Movies are great, but sometimes I want to be able to sip tea, look at the lights and read. This year's choice was Let it Snow, a trio of short stories by some absolutely fantastic authors. Holidays? Yes. Romance? Yes. That pretty much sums up my criteria for a fun holiday read; I don't want anything too serious. Light and fun will do the trick. I had read a couple reviews of this book last year that weren't overflowing with praise, but it was cheap enough and I haven't met a holiday book I haven't liked to some extent yet. 

Thoughts and Reactions
The streak continues with Let it Snow. It wasn't the perfect, blow me away, reread all the time kind of book, but it was exactly what I was looking for. The book is three interweaving stories connected by setting and secondary characters. Each author has their own take on Christmas romances and I enjoyed each one in it's own way. I find I'm having issues summarizing and reviewing the book as a whole since each story is unique so I'll split up my discussion into three sections. 

The first story is Maureen Johnson's "The Jubilee Express." On Christmas Eve Jubilee's parents are arrested and instead of going to her boyfriend's Christmas Eve Smorgasbord she has to get on a train to get to her grandparents in Florida. The train gets stuck just outside of Gracetown and she must rely on the help of a stranger to have a warm, safe place for the night. The stranger just happens to be Stuart, a boy her age who has recently had his heart broken. 

I really enjoyed "The Jubilee Express" although it took me a little while to warm up to Jubilee herself. She's one of those characters who seemed totally believable and I know people like her in life, but my god she drove me crazy at times. She was so concerned with outward appearances that she rarely saw what was really happening.  I enjoyed the building tension between Stuart and Jubilee and more than anything loved the supporting characters in this story. Stuart's family was so sweet and caring if a little quirky and well I'll leave the reason why Jubilee's parents were arrested out of this since I think you should find that out for yourself if you don't already know. "The Jubilee Express" felt like a cute holiday romance with some fairly believable characters in weird and quirky situations. It kind of just made me go aww, I know, not the most eloquent way of putting it. 

The second story is John Green's "A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle." This was probably my least favourite of the three stories which definitely surprised me. I was honestly expecting to like it more than I did. This one centers on Tobin and Angie, best friends who go, with another friend, on an epic midnight Christmas Eve adventure to the local Waffle House to meet some cheerleaders who were stranded on the same train as Jubilee. 

These characters just seemed to rub me the wrong way. They were incredibly nerdy cool in a way that almost seemed to look down on others or like they were all trying just a little too hard to really pull it off. There's a weird male obsession with hooking up with cheerleaders, but also a certain disdain in the writing towards them. Angie is a cool girl because she's a girl, but totally doesn't act like one (but of course still wants to be seen as one). I think that's the part that really got to me; why does being a cool girl amount to displaying more masculine traits and being one of the guys? I'm all for going your own way; this just seems to be a female stereotype that comes up a lot and kind of bothers me. I know there are others out there who have examined this in much more detail and I'm feeling the need to read up on it now. The other part of it was that I just couldn't get behind the adventure. Driving your car up an icy road in the middle of the night during a blizzard is a really good way to get killed. There was some incredibly poor decision making displayed in this story. 

The final story is Lauren Myracle's "The Patron Saint of Pigs." This one centers on Addie a girl who has just broken up with her boyfriend, who happens to be another passenger stuck on the train. She's absolutely heart broken, but also realizes that what has happened was ultimately her doing.  It's now Boxing Day and she must go to work while dealing with her heartbreak and horrible breakup haircut and remember to pick up the pig she and her friend have purchased for their friend who is absolutely obsessed with pigs. 

I know this wasn't a story loved by many, but I really enjoyed Myracle's take on some classic holiday plot lines. Angels and bells, they just go with Christmas you know? Maybe I've just seen It's a Wonderful Life one too many times. Her characters are probably the least fleshed out of all three, but I was too busy enjoying the talk about angels and self improvement and worth to really care. I could not stand Addie's two friends, Dorrie and Tegan, even her boss ended up getting on my nerves. Dorrie was written as a Jewish stereotype and Tegan basically had no personality of her own. The thing that got to me was everybody telling Addie how selfish she was being and while she did display a lot of selfish behaviour, the reactions to some of the things that happened seemed extreme. Not all, she did do one major thing that I know won't sit well with a lot of readers. However, despite its flaws; I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Overall, Let it Snow isn't my favourite holiday book of all time, but I know I'll pick it up again next Christmas. It's light, it's a really fast read and all the stories are about people falling in love in the snow. How bad could any of that be; you just have to be in the right mood for it. Which I, perhaps shamefully, always am. 

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