Published: October 2008
Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks.
This will be divided into three different parts, as it is a collection of short stories!
The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson: 5 stars
Jubilee — or Julie, as she tells other people instead — has been dating the perfect guy for over a year and is getting ready to head to his parents’ holiday party Christmas Eve when she finds out her parents have been arrested at a blow-out collectors’ sale. She is sent on a train to visit her grandparents in Florida, but the train is unable to get through the massive snowstorm. This is when she meets Stuart, a charming, dorky, loveable guy who takes her under his wing and to his mother’s home for comfort.
I’ve never read any of Johnson’s books, and this short story alone has convinced me to start! It was absolutely hilarious, heartfelt, and touching. The characters and all their quirks were so raw and honest, I wished they were real! I’m in love with this piece; so much so that I have to share my all-time favorite passage:
Maybe you’ve never fallen into a frozen stream. Here’s what happens:
1. It is cold. So cold that the Department of Temperature Acknowledgement and Regulation in your brain gets the readings and says, “I can’t deal with this. I’m out of here.” It puts up the OUT TO LUNCH sign and passes all responsibility to the…
2. Department of Pain and the Processing Thereof, which gets all this gobbledygook from the temperature department that it can’t understand. “This is not our job,” it says. So it just starts hitting random buttons, filling you with strange and unpleasant sensations, and calls the…
3. Office of Confusion and Panic, where there is always someone ready to hop on the phone the moment it rings. This office is at least willing to take some action. The Office of Confusion and Panic loves hitting buttons.
Right then and there, Johnson convinced me to check out her other books.
The Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green: 3 stars
Tobin, JP, and the Duke (whose name is really Angie) are sitting around watching Bond movies late Christmas Eve when a friend calls in and demands they trudge through the snow and join him and his coworkers at the Waffle House. Turns out there’s a hoard of cheerleaders camped there due to the issues with the train, and this is a big deal. Tobin and JP take the bait and drag the Duke along for one tail-spinning (pun definitely intended) adventure Christmas morning!
I’ve read a few of John Green’s books before, and am very familiar with his characters’ wit, one-liners, and outrageous antics. Unfortunately, the lengths the boys go (and later, JP, as Tobin begins to slow a bit toward the end) to reach the Waffle House for the sake of cheerleaders — to the point of risking near-death in every scenario — seemed a bit ridiculous and out-there. I loved the Duke’s commentary, and I think she was the one grounding bit about the story. For every adoring phrase about cheerleaders, she had something to counter it. She was the witty voice of reason. The fact that not once throughout the several hours did the boys give up made the piece a bit unbelievable — surely they’re cold and tired and thinking the cheerleaders aren’t worth the risk — but it was still a fun read.
The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle: 1 star
Addie is fresh out of a break-up and needs comfort from her friends. She hopes that by being assigned the task to pick up her friend’s teacup piglet from the pet shop during her break from work at Starbucks will ease her sorrows. What starts off as a simple task turns into a transportation and financial disaster!
I’ve never read Myracle’s work, and I’m sorry to say this did not convince me to read any more. Addie was entirely unlikable, constantly bemoaning her break-up and nit-picking every single detail within the first several chapters. When she heads to work the day after Christmas, her coworkers even bring up how self-absorbed she is — Addie even admits it to herself! It truly made for a difficult read. The teacup piglet was adorable though, and Myracle had the difficult task of tying everything together at the end, admittedly rather clumsily.