Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
My rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Publisher: Speak (2012, first published in 2008)
Length: 353 pgs
Genre: YA Romance/Holiday
Format: Paperback, purchased via Amazon
Goodreads Synopsis: 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 read a lot of reviews about this book prior to reading, as it was my first YA anthology purchase and YA holiday read and I was curious to see what others thought of it. I can assuredly say that my experience with this collection and all three stories in it was consistent with most of the reviews I’d read- it starts off strong and then ends on a less-than-impressive note.
Story #1- The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson
This was my favorite story by far. I cannot believe I hadn’t read anything by Maureen Johnson prior to this. Her narrative voice was just so funny and distinct and on more than one occasion I literally burst into laughter (much to the alarm of my four cats), notably so on just the first page of her story:
“I realize Jubilee is a bit of a stripper name. You probably think I have heard the call of the pole.”
That sentence alone is what convinced me to purchase the book.
Johnson’s tale had so many creative moments that set it apart from a typical holiday romance. It poked fun at the insane, consumer-based side of the holidays (The Flobie Five) and Jubilee was a delightful character to provide first person narration- did I mention how funny she is? (And in a sort of dry, unintentional way, which is the best). Her romance was my favorite of the bunch, set between two strangers, it’s more of the very beginnings of a budding romance but it was believable and quirky, with Stuart’s holiday obsessed mom adding just the right touch of adult presence in a YA story. I wanted a whole book with Jubilee narrating. Had this been a book by itself it would’ve easily merited a four star rating. But alas, then we had the next two.
Story #2- A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green
Right off the bat I will admit I was irritated by the title of this story. (“Cheertastic”…the made-up word just grates on me). I’ve only read TFIOS by John Green so I was on the fence with his writing to begin with. While his writing style is definitely unique, I actually found this story to be rather offensive. I haven’t heard of anyone else who thinks this, and it’s just my own opinion, but I felt that a lot of the humor and jokes made by the teenage boy characters in this story (which are all but one character) were in poor taste and quite sexist. It starts out with three friends trapped in a snowstorm, two of which are teenage boys lured out into the blizzard by the promise of a restaurant full of stranded cheerleaders. Their male fantasies are in overdrive throughout the duration of the story, and the term “Cheerleader Sex” is used more often than not. I appreciate that there was one female character who was The Voice of Reason and called her guy friends out on how sexist and rude they were being, pointing out that being a cheerleader doesn’t make one a sexual object and they are under no obligation to hook up with or even pay attention to these boys just because they are stranded. But the whole thing was just really distasteful to read, in my personal opinion. The dialogue even goes so far as to compare a celebrity with the Waffle House restaurant chain, as her legs are “always open.” Now, no matter your personal opinion about that young celebrity, I just about DNF’d the book right there because I’m not one to be OK with slut-shaming, especially young women whose lives are nobody’s business but their own.
Aside from my rant I also felt that the story dragged on for waaaay too long (there’s only so much trudging through a snow storm one can take) and despite John Green’s talent as a writer and writing snappy dialogue, I was really disappointed by this story.
Story #3- The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle
What’s a miracle is that I made it all the way through this story, because the main character was literally painful to read. She is perhaps the most self-absorbed girl ever to be written in literature, and while I get that the whole point of the story was for her to learn to be giving and humble and selfless that realization was so poorly achieved it lacked any real conviction. The main character also spends most of the time lamenting about her breakup *Spoiler Alert* which she caused (by cheating), only come to find out her boyfriend wasn’t even going to break up with her (he’s a forgiving soul), she’s the one who melodramatically broke up with him…because she insisted they couldn’t be together after how she wronged him…even though he wasn’t even upset…ugh. It did not work for me at all.
Overall: This collection started out really strong but went downhill. I’m glad I read it because it exposed me to Maureen Johnson, but the other two stories I could’ve easily done without. It’s a nice addition to my bookshelf, being holiday themed, but the only story I would reread again would be Johnson’s.