Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Late Review: Let It Snow (Not quite in time for Christmas)

Green, J., Johnson, M., & Myracle, L.  (2008).  Let It Snow.  New York:  Speak.

352 pages.

Appetizer:  In three interconnected stories, Jubilee Dougal is stranded in a snow storm after her parents were arrested due to a dispute at a Flobie Santa Village ceramic collectibles convention and is less than excited to be separated from her boyfriend on their one-year anniversary.  When her train is stranded in Gracetown due to the worst snowstorm in 50 years, Jubilee decides to leave it try to stay warm in a Waffle House.  She has no idea what the night has in store for her.  This novella is "The Jubilee Express" and was written by Maureen Johnson.

Next up, is John Green's addition, "A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle."  In another part of Gracetown, it looks like Tobin's parents won't be able to make it home for the holiday.  Instead, he and his friends JP and Duke receive a call that they must brave the snowy and icy streets to visit the Waffle House for a chance to hook-up with cheerleaders who are stranded there.

In the final story, "The Patron Saint of Pigs" by Lauren Myracle, Addie is struggling over her break-up with Jeb, realizing that she may be a little too self-absorbed, and trying desperately to hunt down a teacup pig that she was supposed to give to one of her best friends for Christmas, all while serving on the opening shift for Starbucks the day after Christmas.

The only story that I'd read previously was John Green's.  It stuck in my mind as an enjoyable wintery tale.  (I think I'd originally read it during the spring, and it had made me excited for the wintery season.)  For several years, I'd been meaning to re-read it and finally enjoy the other two stories in Let it Snow.  This Christmas was finally the time to do it.

Sadly, after having read the book on and off over the holiday, I have to report that I was left feeling "meh," about the whole thing.

I did like the way the stories overlapped and how characters were in multiple stories.  It reminded me of Love Actually.  But some of the references and dialogue have already started to feel more than a little dated.  Plus I can't say that I actually liked all of the characters.  Johnson's "Jubilee Express" was enjoyable enough.  The parents being arrested at a Flobie riot was great.  There were a lot of wonderful metaphors and writing throughout the story, my favorite being Jubilee's narration of having fallen through the ice of a stream:

"Maybe you've never fallen into a frozen stream.  Here's what happens.
1.  It is cold.  So cold that the Department of Temperature acknowledgment and regulation in your brain gets the readings and says, "I can't deal with this.  I'm out of here."  It puts up the OUT TO LUNCH sign and passes all responsibility to the...
2.  Department of Pain and the Processing Thereof, which gets all this gobbledygook from the temperature department that it can't understand.  "This is not our job," it says.  So it just starts hitting random buttons, filling you with strange and unpleasant sensations, and calls the...
3.  Office of Confusion and Panic, where this is always someone ready to hop on the phone the moment it rings." (p. 55)

I wasn't crazy about all of Jubilee's choices though.  She struck me as being more than a  *Vague Spoiler*  I had some trouble with the fact that she was starting a new relationship with someone only hours after ending a year-long one...which she'd only realized was tragically flawed a few minutes before that.  In essence, the romance felt forced.  *End Vague Spoiler*

I still enjoyed Green's "A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle."  It stood up to the test of time, with only a few unbelievable moments and what felt like a rushed ending.

Myracle's "The Patron Saint of Pigs" on the other hand, I had a lot of trouble with.  While the character of Addie was believable, I found her to be really annoying.  The story included some hints at fantastic elements, which just didn't work in light of the fact that both of the other stories remained grounded in reality.  This story also included a bit of a quick and forced resolution as well.  By the end, I was left wishing that these were just separate novels and the authors were given more space to write whole and complete stories.

Alas, I have to declare, "Bah humbug" to "The Patron Saint of Pigs."

Off to drink hot chocolate!

Dinner Conversation:

"It was the night before Christmas.
Well, to be more precise, it was the afternoon before Christmas.  But before I take you into the beating heart of the action, let's get one thing out of the way.  I know from experience that if it comes up later, it will distract you so much that you won't be able to concentrate on anything else I tell you.
My name is Jubilee Dougal.  Take a moment and let it sink in." (p. 1)

"[Noah] promised me there would be time just for us.  He had made sure of it by helping out in advance.  If we put in two hours at the party, he promised, we could escape to the back room and exchange our gifts and watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas together.  He would drive me home, and we would stop for a while....
And then, of course, my parents got arrested and all of that went to hell." (p. 6)

"I could stay here in the cold, dark, stranded train or I could actually do something.  I could take charge of this day that had run away from me too many times.  It wouldn't be hard to get across the road and over to the Waffle House.  They probably had heat and lots of food." (p. 26)

"JP and the Duke and I were four movies in to our James Bond marathon when my mother called home for the sixth time in five hours.  I didn't even glance at the caller ID.  I knew it was Mom.  The Duke rolled her eyes and paused the movie.  "Does she think you're going somewhere?  There's a blizzard."
I shrugged and picked up the phone." (p. 121)

"The greatest night of my life has just begun.  And I am inviting you to join me, because I am the best friend ever.  But here's the catch: after I get off the phone with you, Mitchell and Billy will be calling their friends.  And we've agreed in advance that there's only room here for one more carful of guys.  I cannot further dilute the cheerleader-to-guy ratio.  Now, I am making the first call, because I'm acting assistant manager.  So you have a head start.  I know you will not fail.  I know I can count upon you to deliver the Twister.  Gentlemen, may you travel safely and swiftly. But if you die tonight, die in the comfort that you have sacrificed your lives for the noblest of human causes.  The pursuit of cheerleaders."

"Being me sucked.  Being me on this supposedly gorgeous night, with the supposedly gorgeous snow looming in five-foot drifts outside my bedroom window, double-sucked.  Add the fact that today was Christmas, and my score was up to triple-suck.  And add in the sad, aching, devastating lack of Jeb, and ding-ding-ding!  The bell at the top of the Suckage Meter couldn't ring any louder.
Instead of jingle bells, I had suckage bells.  Lovely." (p. 215)

Tasty Rating:  !!!

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