I am struggling with a question here, and I'd love to hear others' opinions: what makes a good young adult novel? Is it that YAs can connect with it? Is it that they enjoy it? Is it that it's a good book that everyone can enjoy, but that speaks to YAs in particular? Is it something else? Lately I've been reading a fair bit of what is classified as YA FIC at our library. Graceling I adored and will read again and again. Ice I thought missed me as its ideal audience, because rather than sympathizing with the YA main character, I felt like a worried adult when I was reading about her. And the book I'm reviewing here, Let It Snow, was definitely YA but I thoroughly enjoyed it even though it did some weird things to my adult equilibrium. Hence the question: what makes it YA, and what makes it good?
And now... to the review! *gallops off into the snow*
Let It Snow is actually three short holiday romances: "The Jubilee Express" by Maureen Johnson, "A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle" by John Green, and "The Patron Saint of Pigs" by Lauren Myracle. Each are connected by setting and characters, though none of the sets of main characters meet each other more than incidentally until the end of Myracle's story. I love this sort of thing, the little nods to each others' stories throughout. Myracle has the job of tying all these threads together, and I think she does a fabulous job.
If I had to pick a favourite story, I would fuss about it and drag my feet. Then I would probably say Maureen Johnson's was extra-special because I think I clicked with the humour best in that story. And by clicked, I mean laughing out loud, causing fishy to come into the living room (from upstairs, no less) to figure out what the heck was going on. The other two stories did inspire multiple gleeful giggles, though. All three were delightful meditations on broken hearts, new love, old love, friendship, and the meaning of cheerleaders. I mean Christmas. No, wait, I do mean cheerleaders.
Now, as I said above, my adult equilibrium was a bit shaken by this book, and I have come to the conclusion that this means the book was good. After reading Let It Snow, I spent much of the evening and night in a somewhat uncomfortable and occasionally mortifying memory spasm, remembering things that I did in high school and shortly thereafter while still young enough to be considered a young adult myself. I've got some happy memories and I managed to squeeze a few of those in there, but oftentimes I managed to only get the special teenage moments that one looks back at and wonders how one actually survived it all with dignity and heart intact. But what all of this means, to me, that the stories clicked. They connected to some adolescent memory centre and activated it so that not only did I sympathize with the teens in the stories, I empathized with them too. So I wonder what it does for the young adults who read this book?
Overall, a very highly recommended holiday read. It might have been a wee bit uncomfortable remembering those years so vividly for me, but it was totally worth it for the sweet sweet holiday kisses, and the at points absolutely ridiculous, riotous, hilarious ride. I intend to be reading more from all these authors in the new year. Also, though I know this was a popular read last holiday season, I need to thank Nymeth especially because it was her review that first inspired me to pick this one up.
And seriously, comments please: what makes a YA novel YA, and what makes it good?