Holidays meet romance in a Christmas- and Hanukkah-themed collection featuring some of teen fiction’s most prominent names.
A Latino NYU student, running out of food while catsitting during winter break, meets a white upstairs neighbor whose shower is broken in Matt de la Peña’s “Angels in the Snow.” In David Levithan’s “Your Temporary Santa,” a gay Jewish teen plays Santa for the benefit of his boyfriend’s kid sister. Kelly Link’s “The Lady and the Fox” shows the goddaughter of an intimidating English matriarch battling a set of magical rules to free a ghostly family member who only appears on Christmas. Although the majority of characters are white, Christian and straight, clearly attention has been paid here to the call for greater diversity in teen fiction. The setting of the romances varies greatly, from a chaotic trailer-park New Year’s party to a kitschy diner in a tiny “census-designated place” called Christmas, California, to Santa’s North Pole workshop, where his adopted daughter dreams of a boy she met following his route. Rich language and careful, efficient character development make the collection an absorbing and sophisticated read, each story surprisingly fresh despite the constraints of a shared theme.
It’s that rarest of short story collections: There’s not a single lump of coal. (Short stories. 12-18)