A seventh-grader is expelled from school for wearing a shirt reading, â€œHave a Holly, Jolly Christmas.”
Twelve-year-old Megan, who â€œloves Jesus” but isn’t otherwise religious or political, runs afoul of middle-school policy banning specific religious expression when she walks into school wearing the shirt. Upon her suspension, she attracts local publicity and quickly becomes a celebrity when the national media picks up the story. The nation then divides between â€œHappy Holidays” and â€œMerry Christmas” partisans. For months, the parentless Megan hides in her apartment, while her older sister tries to cash in on Megan’s notoriety. Eventually, Megan is invited to the White House, where she spends a memorable evening with the First Lady. The story–somewhat reminiscent of Avi’s Nothing but the Truth–flows well, and the author slowly reveals Megan’s apolitical and non-religious reason for wearing the â€œoffensive” shirt. While most of the adults come across as marginally insane, Megan emerges as the most emotionally mature character, until we meet the First Lady and her aide. Readers will find plenty of comedy and suspense as they follow Megan’s adventures–with demagogues on both sides of the argument equally lampooned–and the author provides a satisfying exploration of the hazards of fame, as well as the emotional realities of Megan’s life.
Quite nicely done. (Fiction. YA)