First Lines: “I hate this time of year,” Rachel says. “I’m sorry, Sierra. I’m sure I say that a lot, but it’s true.”
I started hearing rumblings about this book a few months ago, mostly because it was Jay Asher, the author of Thirteen Reasons Why. He hasn’t really written anything since then, so I was interested to read this. And then when I found out it was a Christmas story? I loved the idea.
Sierra’s life has always revolved around her family’s Christmas tree farm in Oregon. It’s a beautiful fairy tale place that she feels lucky to live at for eleven months of the year. And come December, she goes with her family to California to sell their trees. Sierra loves both places, but it inevitably means missing her friends in each place while she’s away. Things change when Sierra meets Caleb in California. Caleb is not the kind of guy Sierra believes is her type; he’s boy who made an enormous mistake years ago and is still trying to atone for it. Watching him, Sierra is determined to show him forgiveness and redemption. But as disapproval and suspicions swirl around their new relationship, they need to decide if what they have is worth protecting or if it only lasts as long as the Christmas season.
This book ended up being pretty much what I hoped it would be. It’s a Christmas story, so that obviously is a huge part of the plot/setting. But it also has great themes about what it means to forgive and all of those heartwarming feels.
But that doesn’t mean it’s complete fluff. There’s a lot of logical drama here. (What I mean by that is that a lot of high school is about fake rumors, etc. This drama makes sense to me. Like I would expect these issues to arise.) There’s tension from her Oregon friends as Sierra settles in California. But obviously, most of the tension comes from Caleb’s major mistake (and it’s a doozy) and trying to overcome all of that. It definitely has a serious side.
I really did like the characters. I thought Sierra was a little bland and generic, but Caleb and the other characters were kind of awesome. Caleb is the kind of character that reminds me of an abused puppy, so he immediately had my sympathy. And Sierra’s friend Heather was just so much fun to read about.
If you’re looking for a book this holiday season that deals in a ton of heavy topics, this may not be exactly what you’re looking for. (Though why you’re looking for a depressing Christmas story is beyond me.) As a Christmas story, it has some predictable tropes in it. But I was ok with that. I wanted those heartwarming moments.
Overall, it’s a sweet read with a heartfelt center.