Rating: 3.5 stars
I read this book a few years ago but decided to re-read it this Christmas alongside my Mum for a bit of fun and Christmas spirit! Also as I have only recently got back into reading I have never done a buddy read with my Mum and so this of course had to be rectified.
I did enjoy this book but definitely not as much as I did the first time I read it. It is definitely a really fun book and the romances are completely adorable but there are also a lot of stereotypes and potentially problematic elements that I did not notice when I first read this book, probably mainly because I was a lot younger and so just wasn’t as aware of such things. The main issues were with stereotyping such as cheerleaders, assuming they are all ditsy, unintelligent and just there to please the male characters. I did appreciate in the second story how one of the characters, the Duke, called this out sometimes but because the reasons she chose to take issue with these ideas were more self-serving and self-centred, it didn’t really feel like anyone actually cared about the strong stereotypes being made.
Of the three stories the first, by Maureen Johnson, was definitely my favourite by a long way! It was a thoroughly heartwarming story and I specifically adored Debbie, Stuart’s mother, as she was just the most caring and down to earth character I think I have ever come across and she was truly delightful to read about. Actually, Stuart’s whole family was amazing and I think that is one of the main reasons I loved this story so much. Also both Jubilee and Jed were really great characters and so all in all it was a fantastic story.
The second story, by John Green, was slightly underwhelming. I found it slightly boring that it used the ‘best friends that have been in love all along’ trope especially as I thought it was executed quite poorly. It was clear right from the start that the girl was interested in the boy and yet we spent most the story watching him finally realise he could potentially be interested in her. It also used a massive jealousy trope in that he didn’t even notice her until she showed interest in somebody else which I find quite unnerving as surely you should be more self-aware than that. So overall, although the end of the story was still very cute I didn’t think it was particularly good nor did it live up to the rest of John Green’s work.
The third story, by Lauren Myracle, was rather fun to read, especially as everything was wrapped up in a neat little Christmassy bow at the end, which always makes a story enjoyable. I also enjoyed the third story as the focus was more on one person and her relationship with herself instead of a romantic relationship between two people. Yes it was all in reference to a relationship, but I liked how it involved a lot of self-reflection as I feel that side of a good relationship is often lost and almost never discussed in writing. So although this wasn’t as good as the first story I thought it was an interesting read.
So, although this was a fun and Christmassy book to read it definitely wasn’t one of the best books I’ve read but it was definitely very interesting to read again a few years later with a different perspective.
– Maddie Browse