Penguin, £7.99, ISBN 978-0-141-34917-6
Contemporary Romance, 2013 (Reissue)
Let It Snow was first published in 2008, and it has since been given a new lease of life because of John Green’s apotheosis by the snowflakes of Tumblr. The cover promises “three holiday romances”, and I’m sure we all know which holiday it is talking about, but I have to warn you people: we are dealing with teenagers here.
Oh, I’m sure teenagers can believably fall in love, mostly back in those days when the average life span for a poor serf was thirty years and everyone needed to start making babies the moment they hit puberty. Put those teens in a setting of today and I’d have an easier time believing that I would go to bed tonight and wake up tomorrow in a brand new body made for twerking. And then two of the authors just have to make those teenage girls feel exactly like the kind of brats doomed for a lifetime of bitterness stuck behind a fast food counter.
The three stories all take place during a really big snowstorm in Gracetown (“the biggest storm in fifty years”), and the characters in all three stories are loosely related in an “Oh, I know you! Oh, we bump into each other once!” kind of manner. Nothing too deep or complicated, really.
Maureen Johnson begins the show with The Jubilee Express, where our heroine Jubilee, upon hearing that her parents are in jail and she’s to be sent off to her grandparents’ place to weather the storm, is more concerned about having to miss out on the opportunity to lick her boyfriend’s tongue with hers to discover what he’d had for lunch. The parents? Whatever. Teenagers are so cute that way, that’s why we put them behind fast food restaurant counters and yell at them for being useless. Anyway, she’s like, “No! I’d miss out on the chance to make out with my boyfriend!” but then her train strands her in Gracetown, she meets a new boy, and goes, “Ooh, hot! Totally, like, hot! True love hot!” The hero’s ex-girlfriend is excoriated for cheating on him, but Jubilee is said to have done the right thing because, apparently, she deserves better than her now ex-boyfriend. I’ve read lyrics by Taylor Swift that are more profound that this disposable tale.
John Green’s A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle is the best story of the three, mostly because it concentrates on the wacky instead of insipid teenage woes. Tobin and his friend JP are on a mission. With the snowstorm stranding people in Gracetown, fourteen hot and very bored cheerleaders have holed up in the neighborhood Waffle House and they want diversion. As it happens, Tobin has a Twister that these ladies are asking, no, demanding. Now, the two boys have to dash through the snow to Waffle House before their rivals beat them to it (to maintain the current ratio of girls to boys, there are only limited tickets, so to speak) and they drag their female friend the Duke along. Predictably enough, the Duke often seems to be the only smart person of the lot. I like this one because it’s fun, its “woo-hoo, we’re on the roll!” overtones reminding me of Ferris Bueller’s Day Out and those Brat Pack movies of the 1980s. It’s an entirely predictable story, of course, but it’s entertaining and I don’t want to see the three teenagers tossed into a river with bricks around their necks, so that’s good.
Lauren Myracle closes the show with The Patron Saint of Pigs, where our heroine Adie is blue over being dumped by her now ex-boyfriend. She treated him badly, like how she treats her friends, and now she’s unhappy because she wrote him an email asking him to come back and he didn’t replay with an affirmative. When her friend points out that Adie is quite a bitch in her own right, Adie flies off the handle. Fortunately, thanks to a pig and some holiday cheer, she’s going to end up being a nicer person in the end. The thing about this story is that the poor author also has to include the couples in the previous two stories as a “See, we’re all happy, happy, happy – clap along if you feel like a room without a roof!” way, so the whole thing feels even underdeveloped as result. Instead of making Adie work a bit to change, the author has other characters insisting that Adie is better than what people assume her to be, and the ex-boyfriend comes back to ask her whether they can hook up again, just in the time for the happy ending. Too much telling, not enough showing, in other words.
Looking at the cover price of this book, I’d recommend that folks buy a full-length book by one of these authors instead of settling for this very average anthology.