Love, hope, and forgiveness are under the tree this Christmas.
From Thanksgiving through Christmas, Sierra and her parents move from their Oregon tree farm to their sale lot in California. Though Sierra usually eschews involvement with local boys, this year, Heather, her California pal, is determined that Sierra indulge in a “holiday love affair.” Enter Caleb of the adorable dimple, and it’s blush at first sight. However, Caleb has a back story: years ago, he went after his sister with a knife. Troublingly, the revelation doesn’t scare Sierra; she thinks Caleb must be good now—after all, he buys Christmas trees for people who can’t afford them. Sierra’s decision to skip a best friend’s holiday play in order to be with Caleb may also have readers grinding their teeth. A subplot reveals that Heather doesn’t want to break up with her boyfriend because she needs to feel that he wants her. The sexism runs both ways: the novel’s main theme is that of boy-needs-girl-to-make-him-see-he’s-worthy-of-forgiveness. Neither characters nor book seem to question the retrograde nature of these relationships and assumptions. While most ethnicities are unnamed, leaving readers to infer that characters are probably white, there are two secondary characters of color: Mrs. Trujillo, a recipient of Caleb’s Christmas trees, and local mean girl Christy Wang.
Though apparently titled for the line from Romeo and Juliet, this second solo outing for the author of Thirteen Reasons Why is not a love story for the ages. (Fiction. 13-18)