A train gets stuck in a snowstorm in Gracetown, NC (a literally one-Starbucks town, as we’ll soon see), late on Christmas Eve.* Revolving around this event are three interconnected tales of teen love, angst, and romping in the snow.
I’m not usually a short story fan — by the time I get into it, it’s over — but this worked for me, because the characters kept wandering in and out of each other’s stories. The authors managed to make this generic suburban town (in which the main settings are people’s homes and cars, a Waffle House, and a Starbucks) feel as quirky and lovingly created as something out of Garrison Keillor.
The authors’ styles worked remarkably well together, while retaining their own stamp. John Green’s was my favorite, though I got a kick out of Maureen Johnson and her Flobie Christmas Village, too. Lauren Myracle’s was the least impressive of the three. I’m willing to cut her some slack because her story was last, and so to her fell the awkward task of explaining the interconnectedness (to anyone who might be a little slow on the uptake)… but I don’t think that accounts for all of it. Her plot was a little clunkier, her protagonist’s Emotional Growth Moment was a little more contrived, her couple’s relationship was a little less believable. She’s a fine writer, but she can’t quite pull off the literary polish of Green and Johnson.
I will give her props, though, for her gentle ribbing of the other characters (or their creators?). Her protagonist, Addie, describes Green’s protagonist thusly: “Tobin wore scruffy sweaters and was friends with the Korean guy who said ‘asshat,’ and he and all of his buddies were intimidatingly clever.” Has John Green ever written dialog that wasn’t “intimidatingly clever”?
And then Johnson’s protagonist walks into Addie’s Starbucks. She had spent the entire first page of her story obsessively explaining that her name is Jubilee and she knows it’s weird but no, she’s not a stripper. So when she is introduced to Addie, she adds, “Weird name, I know. I’m not a stripper, I promise.” To which Addie replies, “Uh… okay.” Hee.
The authors are clearly all friends, and they clearly had an absolute ball writing this. If books could have commentary tracks, I would love to hear one for Let It Snow.
If you want a book version of Love, Actually — a quality romantic comedy to curl up with while drinking hot cocoa and watching the snow — this is perfect.
* Appropriate, since as it turned out, I read almost the entire thing while sitting on a stalled train for two hours on my way to work. No snow, just incompetence. Sadly, no dramatic romance either.