Book reviews

In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Christmas is in the air!

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays, not because of the sudden abundance of holiday cheer, but because of the weather. Lol, just kidding. Yes, the weather is one of the reasons, but, to be honest, I notice people usually become kinder, more forgiving at this time of the year. I know it’s wrong to anchor kindness and forgiveness at this one specific period, but let’s just say Christmastime makes people more reflective, more open to change. And that alone can be magical.

I associate Christmas with late night shopping, sleepless nights thinking about gift ideas, baking endless amounts of delicious, sometimes experimental pastries, cooking recipes I would not have otherwise considered on a regular day, and the promise of days allotted to rest and whatever other tradition I’ve worked hard to keeping alive: the likes of re-watching my favorite Korean dramas, non-stop and unbothered reading time, or simply making sure I tick off and accomplish my remaining yearly goals before it all ends.

Well, let’s just say the holidays came early to me with this read. Having read almost every book released by Christina Lauren (I’m certain I’m only missing a few), I’m excited to go through this one. It tells the story of Maelyn Jones and her family’s Christmas traditions. For all her life, December twentieth leading up to Christmas Day is spent at the Hollis’ Salt Lake City cabin, with her parent’s closest friends–well, now her family friends. For all her life, Mae is always looking forward to this time of year–spent in the company of the people she loves most, people who know her well before she was even born, and, of course, time spent with one of her childhood friends and long-time crush, Andrew.

Andrew is the Hollis’ eldest son. Three years older than Mae, he always played the role of an older brother: kind, compassionate, patient, loyal, and protective. The difference in age, though minor, has kept Andrew off-limits. Instead, Mae was compelled to spend her time with Andrew’s younger brother, Theo, who was the same age as Mae. As a young girl, Mae did not mind gaining a friend with Theo and an older brother figure with Andrew. But having transitioned into a young woman, this has all changed. At some point during these holiday vacations, Mae made the startling realization that she wanted Andrew, and by no means does that mean as an older brother.

Luckily for Mae, the universe is determined to switch things up–but, of course, with a little unprecedented twist. Suddenly burdened with the reality of the Hollis’ decision to sell the cabin, Mae feels her happiness (of the past, of today, and of the future) fading away. And it’s not just her who is saddened by the turn of events, her entire family, as well as their family friends are also deeply affected by the news. The cabin is where they’ve created most of their happiest memories, and no one is ready to let that go. So, Mae throws her fears and deepest wishes into the universe: “Please. Show me what will make me happy.” And to her surprise, the holidays are hers to relive, to redo, to go over again and again until she finds what it is the universe wants her to see.

I give this book 3 stars. I enjoyed the entire book, though I have to admit I am not a fan of the time traveling aspect. Every chapter feels like it’s going to end right back at the beginning–that dreaded flight going to Utah. There was also a point where I’m unsure whether Mae is even in the right reality, that maybe the author’s been playing with us readers all along. I keep wondering what would make Mae stay in her current timeline, because, clearly, not everything she does ended making her happy–some decisions merely added to her confusion about her situation. But alas, the romance side of this novel is beautiful. Add the Christmas factor, and it’s 100% magic.

I like Andrew’s character, and I feel like the two should have been given more history–like more flashback moments to further establish their connection. Though, don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about what Christina Lauren already laid out. I just wish there was more. I also felt Theo’s character was sidestepped for most of this story. It’s fine, but as the supposed childhood friend, I expected his relationship with Mae to be more apparent.

I don’t own a lot of holiday-themed reads, but I’m happy to have come across this one.

  • Title: In A Holidaze
  • Author: Christina Lauren
  • Year published: 2020
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Total number of pages: 307
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-982-12394-9


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