‘Let It Snow’ by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle
‘Let It Snow’ with the subtitle ‘Three holiday romances’ is a novel from 2008, where three separate novellas mix into each other, storywise. The two first stories were so well written, deep, unpredictable, funny and thrilling, and the last one was a lot worse that just so-so. But overall, ‘Let It Snow’ still deserves four out of five stars.
‘Let It Snow’
January 1st, 2008
It’s the same characters, the same town, the same days around Christmas Eve, but it’s written by three different authors who has chosen their own protagonist and point of view.
‘The Jubilee Express’
Teen girl Jubilee Dougal has a half Swedish boyfriend, Noah, with whom she’s quite pleased. He’s clever, and Jubilee likes that – a lot. They also do a lot of those things couples are supposed to do, so up till Christmas everything seems good. Until Jubilee’s crazy parents gets arrested in an embarrassing episode where they try to buy some rare model buildings for Santa’s village.
In the upcoming blizzard Jubilee is put on a train, so that she can spend the holidays with relatives, since mum and dad are going to spend Christmas in jail. But soon after departure the train get stuck in the snow, and the driver closes down the heat and the electricity.
Most of all to get away from the annoying passengers (a bunch of clueless cheerleaders) Jubilee decides to get off and take a hike to the nearest village. And then her unexpected Christmas adventure that changes her whole life begins.
Excerpt from ‘The Jubilee Express’ / ‘Let It Snow’
I turned off the water only when it started to go cold. When I emerged into the thick stream, I saw that my clothes were gone. Someone had extracted them from the bathroom without my noticing. In their place were two large towels, a pair of sweatpants, a sweatshirt, socks, and slippers. The socks were thick and pink, and the slippers were white fluffy booties, very worn.
I grabbed for the nearest item, which was a sweatshirt, and held it up to my naked self, even though I was cleary alone in the bathroom now. Someone had come in. Someone had been lurking around, removing my clothes and replacing them with new, dry ones. Had Stuart let himself in while I was showering? Had he seen me in my natural state? Did I even care at this point?
It was everything I wasn’t prepared for
It’s Maureen Johnson who has written ‘The Jubilee Express’, and I must admit that I just thought ‘Let It Snow’ was a book with a stunning blue metallic cover, but with so-so stories. But I was completely wrong.
When the bit boring – but necessary – introduction ends and Jubilee suddenly leaves that train in the blizzard, I was completely gripped by the fact, that everything I had thought would happen, couldn’t happen anymore, and that everything I wasn’t prepared for – it’s pretty dangerous out there in the blizzard alone – actually could happen!
It was just so thrilling, and Maureen Johnson just kept going with unexpected surprises, both with action scenes in the snow, but also by slowly changing Jubilee’s mind about herself, her relationship and her prejudice about the new boy she gets to know.
Everything was so well-planned, so elegantly constructed. Also Jubilee’s feelings are so well described, that you can feel every little prickle she senses. It was a stunning, beautiful and romantic novella, one of the best YA novellas I have ever read, and I will definitely read it again next Christmas … and the next. Absolutely five out of five.
‘A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle’
Pretty hard for John Green to take over where Maureen left. Actually, I didn’t think he could, but he jumps to Tobins point of view. Tobin and his two friends JP and a girl – a tomboy called The Duke – are half through their James Bond DVD night in Gracetown in the same snowstorm Jubilee from the first story struggles through. Actually the cheerleader team that Jubilee happily leaves behind in ‘Waffle House’ – the towns only but miserable place to hang out for teens – becomes a target for the three friends in this story.
JP’s friend, the Koran named Keun, works at the Waffle House and makes the emergency call to JP, because this opportunity — a whole team of babbling cheerleaders literally stuck all night in the Waffle House — is the most unique a guy in Gracetown will ever get — in his whole life. Both Keun and JP says, they’ll have to get to the Waffle House! Tobin’s not sure this is a good idea, because he has to drive his parents old car, Carla, through the snow and the slippery roades. The Dukes seems a bit disappointed, but Tobin encourages her with the thoughts of The Waffle House’s famous Hash Browns.
When they finally leaves – Tobin only in trainers in the foot high snow – everything gets totally out of control! And it’s a car ride that both the three friends and Carla will never forget!
Excerpt from ‘A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle’ / ‘Let It Snow’
The snow on the streets was a foot deep. Nothing in our subdivision had been salted or plowed.
“This is such a dumb way to die,” the Duke noted, and I was starting to agree with her. But from the back, JP shouted, “Spartans!” Tonight, we dine in the Waffle House!”
I nodded my head and put the car into drive and pressed the accelerator. The tires spun, and then we shot off, the falling snow alive in the headlights. I couldn’t see the curbs of the road, let alone the painted lines dividing the lanes, so I mostly just tried to stay between the mailboxes.
Grove Park is kind of a bowl, so to leave you have to drive up a very modest hill. JP and the Duke and I all grew up in the Grove Park subdivision, and I’ve driven up the hill in question thousands of times.
And so the potentiel problem did not even occur to me as we started to climb. But soon, I noticed that the amount of pressure I placed on the accelerator pedal did not in any way affect the speed at which we were going up the hill. I began to feel a tinge of dread.
So funny – and very clever constructed
Maureens story was narrated really honest and full of feelings, so when I began reading ‘A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle’, my first impression was that John Greens story was totally the opposite: full of irony, sarcastic lines and tons of humorous descriptions.
And in many ways it was, but it was also so much more. Because the further we get into the story and the three friends keep speak speaking to each other in a pretty harsh language, you realize – and John Green reveals – that beneath all the superficial words, these two guys and this girl have a lot of feelings. Feelings that they are used to ignore, but the wilder this chaotic road trip gets and the more exhausted the three friends gets, it’s impossible for them to repress their emotions. It’s very clever constructed, at it gives the story a great depth. It even gets romantic.
If I should rate Johns story alone, it would also get five out of five stars, because it was so funny, but at the same time serious and with such a realistic description of Tobin’s feelings. The last thing is very rare in YA literature, I think, because many female YA authors describes boys the way girls want them to be, and not the way boys really are and think.
‘The Patron Saint of Pigs’
The third novella about teens in Gracetown is written by Lauren Myracle. Is about Addie who has sophomore English with Jeb, a guy from the Cerokee Reservation with a jet-black ponytail and smokey eyes. Unfortunately Addie often is disappointed about their relationship when they get together. He doesn’t want to hold her hand in public and he’s silent and seems to struggle in situations where she thinks he need to express his feelings.
Soon she makes a mistake with another guy, and when they finally agree to meet and pick up the pieces, Jeb doesn’t show up, and to punish herself Addie cuts her beautiful long blond hair and dyes it pink.
Excerpt from ‘The Patron Saint of Pigs’ / ‘Let It Snow’
Grrrrrr. I hated feeling sorry for myself, which was why I’d called Tegan and Dorrie and begged them to come over. But they weren’t here yet, and anyway, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself.
Because I missed Jeb so much.
Because our breakup, which was only a week old and as raw as an open wound, was my own stupid fault.
Because I’d written Jeb a (pathetic?) e-mail asking him please, please, please to meet me at Starbucks yesterday so we could talk. But he never showed up. Didn’t even call.
And because, after waiting at Starbucks for nearly two hours, I hated life and myself so much that I trudged across the parking lot to Fantastic Sam’s, where I tearfully told the stylist to lop my hair off and dye what was left of it pink.
Which she did, because why did she care if I committed hair suicide.
One long sulk
This third story disappointed me big time. The whole story is about how Addie and Jeb can’t reach each other, and in the meantime Addies friends Dorrie and Tegan, and her mum, are just stunned over the fact that she has cut her hair and dyed it.
We already know that the stories in ‘Let It Snow’ are supposed to be romantic, so when we begin with a break up, it also spoils the ending, because when both of them want each other, how will it be romantic unless they make up again? Compared to John Greens and Maureen Johnsons great stories, where it isn’t revealed who is going to fall in love with who, this couldn’t can be more boring. And the indifferent scenes in between, where Addie just sulks at home or at Starbucks, just made the pain worse.
I couldn’t really find qualities in a girl who makes out with another boy, while she has a boyfriend, and Jeb wasn’t easy to love either, because he had a hard time showing his feelings. It was a pity party from both sides, and I almost didn’t finish ‘Let It Snow’ because of ‘The Patron Saint of Pigs’. One out of five stars!