An extremely informal review of the novellas in Let It Snow and the recent Netflix movie rendition.
John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
October 2, 2008
Blurb: An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train, setting off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.
A trio of today’s bestselling authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—brings all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.
As an adult reader, I was late coming to young adult novels. I think I started after someone loaned me books from the Twilight series and then I moved on to The Hunger Games. I was hooked and began devouring all of the YA novels my library could provide. I read all of the Maureen Johnson’s novels the library had and started in on John Green. At some point in 2013, most likely November or December, I recommended that my library get a copy of Let It Snow. When they finally did and the title was automatically checked out to me, it was spring or summer and I so didn’t feel like reading a Christmas story.
And, long story short, I never did until the past two days, six years after I’d wanted to. Let me tell you, I am so glad that I read Let It Snow after seeing the Netflix adaptation because I would have been so freaking disappointed in the movie that you would have had to mop up my tears. (Okay, a slight exaggeration.)
Let It Snow, the movie
The movie is a feel-good movie, and I felt good while watching it. It was like a shinier, slicker version of a Hallmark movie and a less shiny version of Love Actually. Let It Snow the movie is extremely earnest in its need to feel good for everyone. It tries very hard to be all-inclusive and mostly is. And while that can be superficially wonderful, underneath, well, because it’s superficially wonderful, there is no underneath. I didn’t think too hard while watching the movie except for places where things didn’t make a whole heckuva lot of sense and, really, I didn’t think about those until later while reading the book because only then did I realize what events meant. The movie depicts; the book explains.
Let It Snow, the book
I loved the book. Let It Snow is written by three writers who know their craft.
The first novella by Maureen Johnson tells the story of Jubilee (Julie) who ends up on a train from Richmond, VA to Florida to stay with her grandparents for Christmas because her parents who were standing in line to get a Flobie Christmas village piece inadvertently were involved in a riot and were thrown in jail. The train gets stuck in snow and Jubilee who finds her car inundated with cheerleaders decides that it would be better to run off to the Waffle House than to stay on the train. There she meets a Jewish boy, Stuart, who, when the previously mentioned cheerleaders invade the Waffle House, encourages her to come to him house. Despite her initial “Stranger Danger” she goes, because how could her day get any worse?
So, yes, I can’t tell you how much better this is than the movie. In the movie, Jubilee is not Jubilee (a name with its own set of jokes) but just Julie whose mother has some desperate illness which is why she’s on a train to go purchase some “thing” (is Flobie mentioned? I don’t remember) for a Christmas village that will make her mother happy. Stuart is not a Jewish boy whose Mother is weird and fabulous but a famous black pop singer seemingly without a real family and he’s all alone and about to be mobbed by the cheerleaders in the Waffle House.
Jubilee and Stuart, in the novella, feel like real teenagers, kind of messy, awkward, funny. In comparison, the movie writers chose to push sadness onto the comparable characters.
John Green’s novella is as quirky as you might expect. Tobin, The Duke (Angie), and JP are hanging out watching a James Bond marathon when their friend Keun calls to say that there are many cheerleaders stranded at the Waffle House and that they must bring the game Twister. The boys, of course, fly into motion to get ready while The Duke, being a straight girl, is not so impressed. Despite taking his parents’ 4 wheel drive, Tobin has difficulties driving up the hill leading to the highway. The scene is funny and unpredictable.
The movie writers decided to change most of this. For some reason in the movie, the blizzard doesn’t seem to be a big deal and Tobin has gone with Angie to her college friend’s party (he’s a seemingly perfect boy). The movie also has Keun telling Tobin to bring beer rather than Twister (because evidently the movie writers think Twister is too tame and would rather support underage drinking).
The novella, again, deals so much more earnestly with emotions than does the movie. I won’t go into the details in case you haven’t read the book.
And the last novella, by Lauren Myracle, was the most difficult for me to get into but only because Myracle did a really hard thing and made her main character, Addie, initially self-absorbed and whiny. While drunk at a party, Addie kissed Charlie because she felt like her boyfriend, Jeb, wasn’t paying her enough attention. How Addie deals with her relationship and her insecurity is a bit of a mess, but it’s a relatable mess because this is what teens (and even older people) do in relationships. Myracle takes Addie from being angsty, miserable, and self-absorbed to a better person–although many already saw the good person inside.
Unfortunately, the writers of the movie really skewered this plot and shredded it to bits. Jeb shows up in all three novellas. He’s first on the train and meets Jubilee, and then he’s at the Waffle House where he meets Tobin and the Duke, and then finally he’s the love interest for Addie. He’s described as a good looking native American and a completely nice, stable guy. For some reason, in the movie his character has become an African American player. In a movie exalting diversity, why did they eliminate a very unrepresented minority and then make the character a cheater?
After all of this, you might well understand why I am glad to have seen the movie before reading the book.
Have you read the book? Seen the movie? Let me know your thoughts as I’d love to hear what you think.
I borrowed Let It Snow from the library.
The following rating is just for the book. I’m not rating the movie.
4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies