Book Buddies is a discussion-style review that takes place with one of my two buddies. (Learn more and see past reviews here) We both read the book and then have a private discussion about it. We post our discussion as a review on the last Wednesday of each month. You’ll be able to see our similar/different opinions on the overall book, characters, writing style, etc. – just like a regular review. The first half our discussion will take place right here, and the second half will be on Cristina’s blog! (Link at the bottom)
To college student, Katie Brandt, ‘Home for the Holidays’ sounds like hell. When her parents separated, their holiday traditions shattered like a dropped ornament. What could be worse than celebrating Christmas with her suddenly single mom and mom’s new boyfriend?
Alex Walker, an engaged 20-year-old, dreads going home for his own reasons. He has a daunting task ahead of him and wishes he could skip the holidays altogether. So when a friend of a friend needs a ride north, Alex finds that having beautiful Katie seated by his side proves to be just the distraction he needs.
A simple ride home for Christmas turns into a nightmare when light snow rages into a full-scale blizzard. Katie and Alex find themselves stranded, and a vacant cabin becomes a haven from the storm.
Under different circumstances, time alone with Alex would be the ultimate Christmas gift, but Katie knows Alex is engaged and she must hide her growing attraction.
However, Alex harbors a secret that just might change this holiday from the worst Christmas ever, to the best.
View Cristina’s part of the discussion here.
Going off of your question about holiday books and novellas, how does this one compare to other holiday-themed stories? Have you read a lot of them?
Lauren: I generally read a handful of holiday books each December! I’ve noticed that most of them are more adult stories instead of YA. As you mentioned in your post, My True Love Gave to Me featured a great bunch of stories, but there wasn’t enough time to really get to know the characters. I read quite a few holiday books this year that didn’t really hit the mark for me, and this one falls into the “generally positive” category; I’d probably recommend this one because of how quick it was!
Cristina: Prior to this story I had only read two “holiday” themed books, and they were both YA anthologies: My True Love Gave to Me and Let it Snow. It was definitely a nice change of pace to have a cohesive holiday story rather than a collection of novellas. I think one of the reasons I haven’t read more holiday stories is because the few that are out there are so FOCUSED on just the holidays, and there are only a finite number of books I can read during the holiday season. I think it would be cool to see more “holiday” books that maybe focus on other themes but happen to take place over the holiday season. That way you’d still get the “feel” of the holidays without being over saturated by it.
This book reminded me of a combination of a couple of other books I’ve read with a similar premise: two people stuck together in difficult circumstances. Have you read any books with similar storylines?
What did you think about the family issues that were brought up? Did you feel like that area was given enough attention and was worth mentioning, or was it not resolved properly?
Lauren: This question kind of leans towards my opinion, lol! I liked that there was a more complicated backstory to Katie and her family, but it wasn’t given enough attention or resolution. She complained about going to her mom’s new boyfriend’s house for Christmas and talked about how immature her mom was being, but there was not much more than that. They had a fight and never fully made up from it, in my opinion. My parents are divorced and it can be really hard to face holiday-related changes. Last week for Christmas, I had to shuttle myself and my boyfriend around from house to house for two days straight; it was exhausting. I feel Katie’s pain about traditions, but I just wish this area was more fleshed out. Realistically, it could have been completely excluded from the book.
Cristina: I agree with you, I think that it was a nice attempt at adding some depth to Katie’s backstory, but the lack of detail and resolution really makes it something that could have been omitted. I was actually surprised at how deep into the dysfunction it got- you could really tell that Katie’s pain cut deep with her parents refusing to talk to her and her sister about the circumstances of their separation and about why their family was falling apart. Her mom’s blatant priority toward impressing her boyfriend instead of making her children comfortable during their first Christmas apart from their Dad was also really cruel, and her bitterness toward Katie, admitting that she was an adult and was no longer putting her daughter’s feelings first…now THAT’S something that would make a great NA novel. Exploring the changing parent-child dynamic once a child transitions into an adult, and how isolating that would be.
Who would you recommend this book to? What was your final rating?
Cristina: I would really recommend this book to any YA reader, as I really didn’t think it contained themes that were necessarily for an older audience (although there was potential for more twenties-based issues rather than teen ones). It was definitely cute and I’m glad I read it, but I don’t think it’s something that will stick with me, so I’m rating it 3 stars. I do agree that this novella had great pacing, and while I think other things could have been fleshed out more I thought the length was perfect for a true novella (I can’t stand when “novellas” are only 40 pages long!)
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|Pacing & Flow|
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