It’s safe to say that we all wish for miracles during times of crisis. And when those miracles don’t come fast enough, we dream of times where magic and miracles happen every day—even if sometimes it’s just on the Hallmark Channel.
It might be early May, but I did, in fact, curl up with a fluffy young adult book all about the most magical time of the year, Christmas. And not just any fluffy young adult Christmas book, but one written by three of the best young adult writers working today: Let It Snow, by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle. Each of these authors contributes one story to this collection, all connected in the same North Carolina town beset by a historic snowstorm.
First up, we have The Jubilee Express, by Maureen Johnson.
On Christmas Eve, Jubilee’s parents accidentally get arrested during a shopping riot, forcing Jubilee to take a train from North Caroline to Florida for the holiday. But when her train gets stuck in the snow, Jubilee meets Stuart, a young man her age, and they travel on foot to his home through the storm. Needless to say, the adventure does not stop once Jubilee and Stuart finally make it to shelter…
This story reminded me of why I loved Maureen Johnson in high school. She writes very endearing characters that go on pretty crazy adventures. I mean, her other works have featured teenage girls getting possessed by demons and girls traveling alone through Europe, so why should her record stop here? Jubilee and Stuart are sweet characters, and the cozy, in-home Christmas atmosphere feels so good. I’ve found that I like stories where two people are stuck together with tightening romantic tension—especially if other characters are ahead of the lovebirds on their feelings.
Second, there is A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle, by John Green.
Late on Christmas Eve, when Tobin hears from his friend that a group of cheerleaders is stranded at the Waffle House where he works, he and his best friends JP and the Duke (Angie) decide to join in the action. But they have to drive through a dangerous snowstorm to get there, and they run into plenty of trouble on the road. What follows is a wild adventure of chases, lost tires, and lots and lots and lots of teenage tomfoolery.
John Green definitely has his mark all over this story. The dialogue is snappy, and the characters are unmistakably teenagers—which is both the story’s most entertaining part and its biggest drawback.
It might be because I’m a cautious twenty-something, but I did roll my eyes at these kids’ shenanigans. They spend a chunk of time trying to launch a minivan up over a snowy hill, cheering and shouting all the way. They lose a tire in an accident, and they’re denied entry to the Waffle House unless they walk all the way back to get a Twister game. Freaking Twister! Like, kids, screw the cheerleader sex, going out in that snowstorm is freaking suicide!
That being said, it’s still an entertaining story, and the romance is cute. I won’t spoil it, but you’ll enjoy the teenage cutesiness of undiscovered love unfold. All I’ll say is that it happens between the two most sensible characters in this horned-up teenage scramble.
And finally, there is The Patron Saint of Pigs, by Lauren Myracle.
Addie is in the pits because this Christmas Eve was supposed to be her one-year anniversary with her boyfriend Jeb. Long story short: she cheated on him after they had a fight, and broke up with him out of embarrassment. But then, Addie’s friend Tegan tasks her with an unusual task: go to a pet store to pick up a teacup piglet that she adopted. Of course, it’s not going to be an easy task for Addie, especially when she arrives too late to the store…
I haven’t read Lauren Myracle since I was fourteen, but I forgot how funny she could be. If Maureen Johnson’s stories are wholesome and sweet, then Lauren Myracle is snappy and whip-fast. Her story made me laugh the most, if only because the craziest things happen in Addie’s quest to find Tegan’s pig. There may or may not be a fantastical element thrown in here, but I think that it up to the reader to decide. Second to the Maureen Johnson story, this one really lays on the Christmas miracle aspect, which is a nice offset to the sarcasm and wit flying off everyone’s lips.
On the whole, all three stories are fun to read. My favorite is probably the Maureen Johnson story, because it has some favorite tropes and the Christmas flavor is strongest with it. But I can tell you that this whole book is a marvelous escapist balm. So make a cup of hot chocolate with your favorite toppings and escape back into Christmas—even though it’s May.