Archives for posts with tag: john green

9780142412145Compared to the number of excellent picture books for the holidays available — for examples see this list over at the Youth Literature Reviews — books for older readers and adults are a bit more rare. I also have a difficult finding one that doesn’t inspire an epic eye roll à la Liz Lemon. I picked up Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle (Speak, $9.99) at a bookstore that was not my bookstore back in September. I battled internally about the uselessness of buying a book at a bookstore that is not my bookstore and finally refrained, waited, and ordered it last week (thank you, employee discount). By now, most of you know how I feel about John Green, if not, see this post. I couldn’t not read a book with his name listed among the authors. I had also read one of Lauren Myracle’s books a while back; didn’t love it, but I did admire her for writing a book about teenage lesbian characters in the early 2000s. Maureen Johnson’s books I know, but have not read. Let it Snow is a collection of one story from each author, “The Jubilee Express” by Johnson, “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle” by Green, and “The Patron Saint of Pigs” by Myracle. Stating without hesitation that Green’s story is the strongest of the three either betrays my bias or his talent. Nevertheless, all three stories, essentially Christmas romances, are enjoyable and they weave together nicely. The overarching connections are a snow store, a stranded train, a small town, minimal parents, and various teenagers who, for living in a small town, lead remarkably interesting lives.

One of my favorite conversations comes from Johnson’s story:

“Stuart’s a wizard with those kinds of things,” she said. 

“What kinds of things?”

“Oh, he can find anything online.”

Debbie was one of those parents who still  hadn’t quite grasped that using the Internet was not exactly wizardry, and that we could all find anything online.”

My one complaint is that although both Green and Myracle — I’m not sure about Johnson having not read her stuff — have included gay and lesbian characters in their other books, there was not even a gay best friend — or at least an out gay best friend — to be found among these holiday love stories. And interestingly, the most relatable female character, meaning relatively gender neutral and not wearing a short skirt in the dead of winter, is in Green’s story. Nevertheless, all three authors write believable characters, who are flawed but intelligent. By the time I read the third story, I wanted to go back and read the first one as small details from each plot infiltrate the other two. All three stories are enjoyable reads and I imagine this was a fun project. I am a fan of co-written books.

As I’ve indicated before, there are many amazing YA books being published these days, but my favorite ones to recommend are anything by David Levithan and John Green, especially Will Grayson/Will Grayson, which is co-written by David Levithan AND John Green (Speak, $9.99). woot!

Two Will Graysons, living in two different suburbs of Chicago meet unexpectedly one night. Like all of Levithan’s books, the spectrum of sexuality is represented through a range of characters. Gay, lesbian, bi, straight, questioning, unknown: they’re all there and they’ll all supported and encouraged. This book alternates between the two Will Grayson’s, one written by each author. Levithan’s stories are refreshing because they don’t include the ‘traumatic coming out’ experience that is often a staple in lbgtq YA books. The characters in his books, regardless of their sexual orientation, are always interesting kids. Levithan’s Will Grayson is more melancholic than many of his other characters (Paul in Boy Meets Boy immediately comes to mind), but mostly because he’s a teenager, not because he’s gay. Green’s Will Grayson has his own issues with relationships and friendships. His spot on commentary about high school dynamics made me laugh out loud several times.

But don’t stop there, read all of their other books, too, because Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List (co-written with Rachel Cohn), The Realm of Possibilities, An Abundance of Katherines, and, of course, the amazing The Fault in Our Stars are each phenomenal. And let’s all hope that they collaborate again soon.

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