Imagine it’s a snowy evening and you’ve settled down in front of the fire with a big mug of hot chocolate and a fluffy blanket. The hot chocolate is piled high with whipped cream and topped with marshmallows. It’s sweet and frothy and likely to make you feel like you’ve had your weekly allowance of sugar all in one go but it’s perfect for an evening when you’ve nowhere to be and nothing to do. This, for me, is what reading Let It Snow was like.
Let It Snow is a collection of three connected short stories, all of which are set over the Christmas period and during a blizzard. The first story is called ‘The Jubilee Express’ and was written by Maureen Johnson. The story begins on Christmas Eve as the eponymous Jubilee excitedly looks forward to going to her boyfriend’s house for his family’s annual Christmas Eve Smorgasbord (for those not in the know, a smorgasbord is a kind of Scandinavian buffet-type meal). Unfortunately her plans are ruined when her parents are arrested as part of the ‘Flobie Five’; a group involved in an altercation at the showroom of a collectibles company. Jubilee is put on a train to her grandparents but her Christmas Eve is further disrupted by the arrival of the ‘biggest storm in fifty years’, which causes her train to break down just outside of a small town called Gracetown. Jubilee’s decision to abandon the train for the sanctuary of a nearby Waffle House sets off a chain of events that affects not just her own life but the lives of several other characters that will later appear in the book.
The second story in the collection is titled ‘Cheertastic Christmas Miracle’ and is written by internet-favourite John Green. This story takes place late Christmas Eve/early Christmas morning and focuses on a trio of friends: Tobin, the Duke and JP. The story is told from the point-of-view of Tobin as he and his friends set out on an ill-advised journey through the snow to the Waffle House, where they have heard that a group of cheerleaders (who were travelling on the same train as Jubilee and followed her example after she escaped the train) are taking refuge from the storm and are desperately in need of Twister (the game that is, not a further weather phenomenon). Tobin and JP are very enthusiastic about their quest, the Duke less so, as the only girl in the group she is less enamoured at the thought of a roomful of cheerleaders, although the prospect of Waffle House hash browns ultimately sways her. Over the course of the night Tobin has somewhat of a revelation as he realises that perhaps his prospects for love lie closer to home than he realised and that actually the journey really is as important, if not more so, than the destination.
The third, and last, story in this collection is called ‘The Patron Saint of Pigs’ by Lauren Myracle. It is now Christmas Day in Gracetown and our latest protagonist Addie is heartbroken after splitting up from her boyfriend Jeb (who was also on the train with Jubilee and the cheerleaders, and later at the Waffle House with Tobin, the Duke and JP). Addie’s story develops over Boxing Day as she tries to discover why she sabotaged her relationship with Jeb and also tries to come to terms with the fact that several people in her life think she’s self-centred. As the title suggests, there is a pig involved and it ends up being part of Addie’s redemption quest.
Overall, I liked this book. It was sweet, light-hearted and entertaining. However, I probably wouldn’t recommend it to others unless they were specifically looking for an easy read as I felt it lacked depth, which is perhaps unsurprising in a book about teenage romance. I liked some of the characters (The Duke might have been my favourite) and found some of the others slightly annoying (mainly Addie) but the plot was fairly basic and there were some loose ends that I felt were just abandoned (such as the fate of the Flobie Five). I think the authors did a good job of interweaving the stories and characters and I think the book had a good sense of atmosphere. Let It Snow is worth a read if you’re looking to escape a stormy night, or feeling nostalgic for your years of teenage angst.
(I’ve also posted this on the website for the book group I attend – The Edge of Reading.)