Dec 16, 2008

Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

The first of these three interconnected novellas is Maureen Johnson’s “The Jubilee Express.” It's the story of a girl named Jubilee (she’s heard all the jokes) for whom everything goes wrong on Christmas Eve. Due to a series of events I’ll let you find out about for yourselves, she finds herself stuck at a Waffle House with fourteen cheerleaders, a man dressed in tinfoil, and a guy covered in plastic bags.

In John Green's “A Cheertastic Christmas”, a group of three friends – Tobin, JP and The Duke (aka Angie) – are having a Bond marathon when the phone rings. Their friend Keun, who works at the aforementioned Waffle House, has interesting news about a group of fourteen cheerleaders, and asks them to join him as soon as possible. But getting to Waffle House in the middle of the worst snow storm in fifty years is no easy task. On the way, the three find out things about themselves and one another that they’d perhaps rather not face.

Finally, Lauren Myracle’s “The Patron Saint of Pigs” is about Addie, who broke up with her boyfriend only a week before their one year anniversary, which would be on Christmas. As it’s beginning to look like things between them won’t be mended, she’s in need of a Christmas miracle of her very own. She does get one, though not quite in the way she was expecting.

First of all, I loved the way these three novellas were interconnected. Each is a self-contained story, but they share a setting, and the main characters from each novella have cameos in the others. Addie’s story, for example, is hinted at in the first two novellas, making the reader wonder what’s going on. When we get to the third story, we’re already interested in the situation. And plus, getting to see the characters from the first two stories in the last one felt a bit like seeing old friends again. I thought this structure worked really well.

I think I’ll say a little more about the stories one at a time. I loved “The Jubilee Express”. Jubilee herself has such a unique and believable voice. The story is funny, honest and gripping, and it deals with important themes. I don’t want to give too much away, but basically Jubilee is not happy in her relationship. Noah, her boyfriend, treats her like she is beneath him, like he’s doing her a huge favour by going out with her. This is something that is obvious to the reader from the very beginning, even though Jubilee is the narrator and she doesn’t seem to realize it herself. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that she doesn’t admit that she realizes it. As you might have guessed, this is something that changes over the course of the story.

"The Jubilee Express" is a great story with excellent writing: subtle, funny and relevant all at the same time. I’ve been curious about Maureen Johnson for a while now, but this seals the deal. The Bermudez Triangle, here I come.

I loved “A Cheertastic Christmas” by John Green even more. Though I have to admit that until the last couple of characters I was thinking that perhaps “The Jubilee Express” would be my favourite. This would have been surprising, since John Green was the reason why I got this book. But not in a bad way, of course. Who doesn’t like finding new authors to love?

But anyway, the ending of this story made me love it all that much more. The build up is perfect, and the last few chapters are so sweet and moving and perfect. There’s this scene in particular I wish I could describe, but it would be a big spoiler. So I’ll just say what it’s about: it’s about taking risks, because playing it safe all the time means you’ll never actually do anything you care about. Everything that matters to us involves a risk, but hey, better to take risks than to miss out on life.

And then there’s the fact that John Green writes the coolest teen characters ever. Once again, his characters made me wish I could have been friends with them in high school. They are smart and funny and occasionally serious and so… alive. They are such a pleasure to spend time with.

(I still wish I had friends like John Green’s characters.)

“The Patron Saint of Pigs” was my least favourite, but I still enjoyed it a lot. I liked all the echoes of (and references to) “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

Let it Snow is such a charming book. It’s humorous and meaningful; it’s sweet but not sugar-coated. All three novellas could be described as love stories, but they are broader than that. They are, among other things, about connecting with others. And that’s always been my favourite thing about the holiday season.

Reviewed at:
Once Upon a Bookshelf

Fyrefly's Book Blog
Casual Dread
Pop Culture Junkie
Melody's Reading Corner
a book a week


  1. Great review - I want to read the book now.

  2. This sounds like The perfect xmas read! maybe next year!

  3. I'm interested! and just as interested in how they came together to write this collection...

  4. Man, I thought I was done my Christmas reading, but this one sounds so damn good! I might just have to go out and get it. And I totally know what you mean about John Green's characters. They're some of my favorites and I wish I knew them too. Wait til you read Paper'll love the characters in that one.

  5. I am a big fan of the interconnected short stories mode of storytelling. How can you go wrong connecting something I love, short stories, with an overall theme to make it a novel, something else that I love?!

    The cover on that is fantastic by the way, puts me right in the Christmas mood. I could use some of those gloves today, it snowed like crazy here all day and is very, very cold. I love it!!!

  6. I loved it, too, and sent a copy to my Christmas Book Swap recipient (the Friendly Book Nook's Secret Santa, though, not yours and Dewey's). I hope she enjoys it, too. John Green is amazing at writing likable teenage characters. :)

  7. Poor Jubilee! What was her mother thinking?!

  8. RYC: It does have a wonderful cover, and after flipping through it again this morning, it looks even better than my first glance through it!

    Thanks for organizing the Christmas Swap!

  9. Bermudaonion, hope you enjoy it!

    Valentina: It really was! It was sweet and uplifting without ever being cheesy.

    Care: I wonder about the writing process too! Maybe someone started and the others build their stories about that first one? Or maybe they agreed on an outline and worked from there?

    Chris: Yes, you absolutely need to get this! No Christmas reading will ever be done without this book :P I'm a terrible influence, I know. And I bet I really will love the characters in Paper Towns.

    Carl: I like that a lot too, especially when it's done really well. I love the cover too! So wintery and cosy. And you're so lucky to have snow!

    Jessi: I can't imagine someone not enjoying this book! And he really is :)

    Ladytink: lol, I know. She was named after Jubilee Hall, a building in a Christmas village her parents collect somewhat obsessively :P

    Phantom Inkheart: You're welcome! I had fun doing it and I'm glad everyone else is having fun too. And I will keep the book you got in mind for my Christmas reads next year!

  10. This one sounds good! I love the idea of interconnected stories by different writers, and I recently finished Looking for Alaska, so I'll definitely be on the lookout for this one. Thanks for the review!

  11. Great review, Nymeth! This one sounds like a wonderful holiday read! I also love the idea that these three novellas are inter-connected.

  12. This sounds sweet. I like separate but interconnected stories. The cover is quite cute.

  13. I've been interested in this book and your review definitely makes me want to read it. :) I know I have an ARC somewhere in my giant stack...

  14. This sounds like something I would love to read. thanks for the review. I'll see if i can get it here. Fingers crossed.

  15. So happy that you enjoyed this!! :) Maureen Johnson's books are all (or at least all of the ones I've read) just as good as this one. I highly recommend The Bermudez Triangle and Suite Scarlett. Both fabulous and you'd enjoy them. :)

  16. That's it. I have *got* to find a copy of this somewhere. :)

  17. I just got this from the library over my lunch break today, and after reading your review, now I *really* just want to go home and read it!

  18. Oh I'm glad you enjoyed all the stories, I've been wanting this one solely for the Green part, now knowing the others are good too makes me even more happy :)

  19. Darla: Oooh, I can't wait to read your thoughts on Alaska!

    Melody: It's a perfect Christmas read :)

    Charley: It is very sweet, but never in an artificial sort of way.

    Em: You have to dig it out and read it!

    Violetcrush: I hope you can!

    Court: I bet I would! I really look forward to reading them

    Melissa: Indeed you do :P

    Fyrefly: I hope your day goes by fast and you soon find yourself at home diving into it!

    Joanna: That's why I got it too...I was so glad I ended up loving the whole thing.

  20. Sounds good Nymeth! I think I am going to be buying a lot of Christmas books for next year...

  21. Kailana and Michelle, I hope you both enjoy it!

  22. this does sound like a cute christmas read :)
    great review!
    I still havent read anything christmasy this year.

  23. We don't have snow here but I want to read this book :)

  24. Naida: This was my only Christmas read so far, but I'm hoping to still be able to squeeze in A Child's Christmas in Wales.

    Lightheaded: No snow here either :(

  25. This sounds awesome, and I totally agree w/ you in that I wish John Green's characters were my friends!!! ;)

  26. I loved this book! Your review was so great, it pretty much captures exactly how I felt about it as well! I love how the stories were all connected!


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