While I love Young Adult lit, I’m not a particular fan of romance, YA teen-romance or otherwise. Nothing against it, it’s just not my thing. But the exception has always been John Green, probably because his books always seem to be stories that happen to feature romance, instead of Romance Stories. If that makes sense.
Any way… I probably wuldn’t have picked this book up if it weren’t for the fact that I almost always read John Green for Bookstravaganza. This is the only John Green book I hadn’t yet read, so I gave it a read.
It was… a mixed bag. Let It Snow is sort of a novel in three parts, or else just three super interconnected stories. It was neat to watch the stories intermingle (especially because I somehow missed the word “interconnected” on the back of the book, so it took me by surprise). The stories are fun, in the simplistic way that YA often is. There are some very cute moments that even a cynic like mecould appreciate. Johnson, Green and Myracle are all skilled writers, and they have crafted very realistic and engaging voices for their teenaged characters.
On the other hand…. there’s just so much ick in this book. One of the interconnecting story threads is a train that gets stuck in the snow, and a gaggle of cheerleaders from the train who take refuge in a Waffle House. The cheerleaders are at the centre of a lot of uncomfortable shit. One of the stories revolves around a race to hang out with the cheerleaders at the Waffle House between three groups of guys, because only one group will be allowed in so as no to “further dilute the cheerleader-to-guy ratio”. There’s a lot of “she wears short skirt, I wear t-shirts”, whore v. madonna, cheerleader v. cool girl shit. Because nothing is cooler than demeaning other girls in order to get the guy, right?
The cheerleaders are almost always objectified as sexual objects by the guys, or shamed and judged for being too feminine/sexual by the girls. Now, on the plus side, most of the characters do get called out by others for their less-than-informed opinions of the cheerleaders. But at the same time, the narrative itself doesn’t seem to agree; these girls are picture perfect stereotypes, the kind of airheaded cheerleader than only ever existed in 90s TV shows. Hell, every single one of them is named either Amber or Madison! They are literally interchangable.
To be fair, Lauren Myracle’s story,”The Patron Saint of Pigs” doesn’t have any of these problems. Perhaps that’s partially because the cheerleaders hardly feature? It’s also probably my favourite story of the three.
There are a few other ways that Let It Snow plays into some of the overplayed, problematic, and even harmful tropes that are frustratingly common in romance stories. I was expecting more from a project John Green was involved in, as he’s usually very cognizent of these sorts of issues. Then again, the book is from 2008, so perhaps (hopefully) he and the other writers have learnt a bit since then.
Overall, I’m no sorry I read Let It Snow or anything like that, but I am glad I finished it so quickly.
Books read: 7