I usually don’t read romance novels, and for good reasons. It is necessary for young adult novels to have some hint of a love story, since it wouldn’t draw in teens without it. However, most authors mistake a “hint” for “the entire story” and proceed to ruin what could have been a lovely novel. After introducing a budding romance, the authors soon forget a need for an actual plot or storyline, and the book becomes nothing more than a newly formed couple madly in love. However, I was in need for a book to read that would liven up the holidays and put me in the Christmas spirit, so I decided to check this book out. Surprisingly, it was one of the wittiest, sweetest, and most heartwarming romance novel I have ever read. The book consists of three stories written by three authors, all revolving around a Christmas storm in a tiny town named Gracetown. I was very impressed by the interconnectedness between all the stories, despite the fact that each of the authors wrote about very different characters in their own unique approach. Throughout each of the stories, the characters remained the same in personality and appearance, despite the varying writing styles, which provided a very cozy, loving atmosphere to the novel. Since there were three different romances, I decided it would be best to talk about each of them individually to decide how enjoyable this was as a whole.
The first story in the book, written by Maureen Johnson, was my personal favorite out of the three. I think that the main reason for that is the main character, Jubilee. Jubilee’s entrance was one of the most comedic, entertaining chapters I have ever read. The author expertly established the personality of her character in those first few paragraphs, and she stayed the same throughout the rest of the story. Her humor and the amusing way that she looked at life hooked me on from the start. However, I was immediately drawn once the story began by the rawness and reality that I saw in her personality. The author made her sound like a real person, not just a character in a made up story. More often than not, authors have difficulty with breathing life into the people that they create, so they end up sounding fake and too-good-to-be-true. However, we don’t see any saccharine optimism or perfection in Jubilee. In fact, the character draws a lot of attention to her imperfections and how utterly stupid she sounds and feels, which allows the readers to relate to her on a personal level. Her realness was further emphasized by the group of mindless cheerleaders that she has to face on her train. Her anger and frustration towards how all the men around her that were reacting perfectly sum up the mentality of women while further portraying her as an ordinary person. She wasn’t extremely beautiful or extremely gifted in any way, but she was extremely opinionated, which made her a very animated and entertaining character to read about. However, one thing I disliked about this story was the abruptness about everything. Everything was going so unusually fast, which gave me the feeling that although the personality of Jubilee could probably be real, the circumstances and situations she had to deal would probably couldn’t. However, the weirdness of everything she had to go through only added to the humor of the story. Throughout the romance, I had to pause my reading to allow myself some moments of laughter, because the thoughts going through her head were so hilarious and amusing. The romance was perfect, since there was a plot and reason for everything that was happening, but was also sweet enough to make anyone smile. Although there were some events that occurred that didn’t really fit in with the rawness that she put into all of the characters, Maureen Johnson’s story was beautiful and the happy ending was extremely sweet and enjoyable.
Next came John Green’s story about a boy named Tobin who fell in love with his best friend. John Green’s works are very distinct and unique compared to other novels or stories, but are very similar to each other in that the all revolve around a combination of witty characters, a painful reality, and a beautiful love story spawned from extremely unexpected circumstances. The stories end up being saddening, tormenting, and beautiful, which is why he pulls in so many readers. However, this story has got to be one of my favorites out of all of his work, due to one huge difference: it ends on a happy note. Well, to put it in his wise words, it ends with a “happy middle”, and the doesn’t continue the romance till the sometimes tragic ending. The trio of friends featured in this story, along with all the events that occurred, are extremely unrealistic. Tobin, JP, and the Duke are too clever and too good at creating comebacks to ever sound real, but that’s what makes them so hilarious. They always know what to say to turn every argument into something that would make the readers burst with laughter. The weird, unexpected situations perfectly match the characters, creating a wonderfully happy story that makes you wish that your life was as fun and carefree as that. However, I have two complaints about the romance that the author created. First, the title is extremely unoriginal and boring. It was as if he spun a beautiful tale of adventure, but forgot to create a title that matched it. However, since the fantasy he created was amazing, that tiny detail can be overlooked. Second, I feel like the romance took to long to develop. In the beginning, I was unsure on how this was possibly going to become a love story, since there seemed to be no eligible girl for Tobin in sight. I felt like the plot ended up having more importance than the actual romance. While the characters were going on their adventure, there would be sparks of love and interest between Tobin and the Duke, but nothing big enough to actually be thought of as a romance until the end. I believe that if he were to have put more importance on the actual love aspect of the story, I would have enjoyed it much more.
The last story was that written by Lauren Myracle, who wrote about a self-centered girl named Addie who learned to be more caring towards those around her. Sadly, this was my least favorite love story, since this kind of romance strongly reminded me of the ones I hate and avoid in bookstores. It sounded like the woes of a pubescent teenage drama queen, and I found myself getting increasingly irritated as the plot progressed. The meaning of the story was excellent and understandable, but the actual storyline was not. It was confusing and strange, not miraculous and sweet like the author tried to make it. However, it was bearable, so it didn’t make the book as a whole sound unpleasant. The only part I truly liked was the ending, where the author masterfully tied in all the stories for a surprisingly cute goodbye. I feel like this story didn’t reach the high expectations set by the other two stories and needs more humor and better development of characters and plot to actually fit in.
Overall, this book was very enjoyable. Although none of them sounded remotely the same, the stories still managed to work together perfectly. It is the masterpiece created by the wonderful synergy of three great authors, and although I have some minor complaints, I loved it as a whole. If you’re looking for something perfectly holiday-themed that with keep you warm and cheerful no matter how frosty and chilly it is outside, I strongly recommend reading this novel.