Saturday, 25 January 2014

Let It Snow, by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

I saved Let It Snow for Christmas Day reading as I figured it would be the perfect Christmas Day treat. And it was! How great is it when something like that works out perfectly? Of course, it’d be great reading for any time of the year, but especially for a snow day or a holiday day. In fact, the only thing that would have made it better when I started reading on Christmas Day would have been if it had started snowing too. But hey, we can’t always have everything we wish for.

Let It Snow is composed of three short stories or novellas (what exactly is the difference? Is it just word count?): The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson, A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green, and The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle. All three of them are set in one small U.S. town in the middle of a massive snowstorm, and while each story features different characters, the people and events within them overlap. Oh, and it’s Christmas. Yay!

It’s Christmas Eve and Jubilee has the next twenty-four hours all planned out, but when her parents get arrested at a shopping stampede she’s somewhat unceremoniously shoved onto a train off to her grandparents’ house. But then the storm comes in and the train breaks down and instead of sitting in the cold like a martyr (surrounded by an incredibly irritating group of cheerleaders who are, yes, practicing) she decides to pursue other options and makes for the diner she can see over the way. Here she meets Stuart, and a small-town adventure ensues that includes getting very wet feet, breaking up with her boyfriend, and losing her phone in a snow drift. It’s great: Maureen Johnson at her typical Maureen Johnson best.

Cut to… Tobin and his friends JP and the Duke. Tobin’s parents are out of town and can’t get back in time for Christmas thanks to the storm. Tobin doesn’t really have a problem with this: he, JP and the Duke are just gonna sit and watch Bond movies. At least, that’s the plan until they get a call from their friend who works at the diner: the diner has been taken over by cheerleaders. This makes JP very excited indeed, and he persuades Tobin and the Duke that they should drive over there and witness the cheerleading miracle. This, given the raging storm outside, is easier said than done. Cue road-trip style adventure, albeit on a very small and snowy scale, but with just as many disasters along the way, like sliding backwards down a hill, abandoning the car in a snow drift and, er, getting very wet feet. Ditto the above: John Green at his typical John Green best.

Lastly we meet Addie, who is feeling extremely sorry for herself because she hasn’t heard from her boyfriend Jeb at all across Christmas. They sorta broke up last week, but she asked him to meet her at Starbucks on Christmas Eve so they could figure stuff out. But he didn’t show. Come Boxing Day, she still hasn’t heard from him, but has the early shift at work and has promised to collect a ‘parcel’ from the local pet store for her friend. Addie is a bit scatterbrained, especially when all she can really think about is Jeb, but collecting the parcel goes rather wrong and it’s really not her fault (though her friend blames her) – can she fix it? And can she get over Jeb?

I’ve never read anything by Lauren Myracle before, and her style is similar to her two co-authors, but I’m afraid I was a bit disappointed by The Patron Saint of Pigs, especially after reading the other two brilliant stories. Addie was very hard to like, even when some of the things that went wrong weren’t really her fault (although some of them were), but I also felt that the threads of the story didn’t completely add up. We know from the first stories that Jeb is actually on his way to meet Addie, but got held up by the storm. My question is this: Jeb tries to phone Addie multiple times, but for some unknown reason never gets through to her: why not? And, seeing as everyone else manages to plough their way through the snowstorm, if he is supposedly so desperate to get in touch with her, why doesn’t he venture out as well?

Of course, it all works out in the end – there’s a reason why the subtitle of Let It Snow is Three Holiday Romances. I can see that Lauren Myracle perhaps had the trickier job: to tie up all three storylines and bring all the characters together. She does succeed, it’s just that I wasn’t that bothered about Addie and her whining. I was bothered about the other protagonists, though, Tobin and the Duke (who is, by the way, a girl with an unusual nickname), and Stewart and Jubilee. And although I wasn’t swept away by the third romance, it’s a book worth reading for the first two. So next time the sky turns black, the temperature falls, and you need a little romance in your life, Let It Snow will surely meet all your criteria for a cosy afternoon read in front of the fire.

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