Thursday, 22 December 2011

Review: Home for the Holidays (Mother-Daughter Book Club)

Title: Home for the Holidays (Mother Daughter Book Club #5)
Author: Heather Vogel Frederick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Publication Date: October 4th, 2011
Genre: Junior Fiction, Realistic Fiction

As the Christmas season begins in Concord, snowflakes and magic are in the air for the mother-daughter book club. The girls are sophomores in high school and have now been friends for what feels like forever. For the first half of the school year, the club is reading the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. They’ve managed to do the impossible: find a series that Emma hasn’t read! This Christmas is bittersweet: none of the girls are going to be home for the holidays this year. Megan and Becca are going on a cruise with their families. Becca’s father has just lost his job, but her family’s pride is stopping them from sharing their troubles with their friends. Cassidy is going back to California, where her family is considering moving. Jess’ ski trip to Switzerland was canceled when she broke her leg, but her and Emma are going to a German lodge in New Hampshire instead. The girls have pledged to always put friends before boys, but they still find themselves feuding due to boy related drama. Becca is jealous of the fact that her longtime crush Zach likes tomboy Cassidy. Megan and Becca turn their efforts to gain the attention of a handsome crewmember into a feud that ruins their Christmas. Emma finds herself distrusting Jess when she seems to get along too well with another boy, despite the fact that she’s dating Emma’s brother. And a secret Santa fiasco does nothing to help their friendships. When many of the girls wish they had stayed home for the holidays, they will have to do their best to try and have the sort of friendship that Betsy and Tacy have.

When I heard that there was going to be a Mother-Daughter Book Club for the holidays, I assumed they would be reading A Christmas Carroll by Charles Dickens. I was completely wrong: the girls are actually reading the ten books in the Betsy-Tacy series. Before reading this, I had only heard of the series from the movie You’ve Got Mail. I’d been meaning to read them, but this book gave me the push I needed to go directly to the library and take out Betsy-Tacy. I read Home for the Holidays with no knowledge of the books they were reading, but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the novel. They book club discussion isn’t too sophisticated, so you can follow it with no prior knowledge of Betsy-Tacy. While in Pies & Prejudice it could be annoying to be told these facts about Jane Austen that I already knew, this time around it was entirely new information and I ate it up. This book starts at Thanksgiving and ends at New Year’s. It is the first book in the series to be told from Becca’s perspective as well. Becca is the newest member of the book club and a former queen bee. She bullied Emma in middle school, but their relationship has improved since then, although the girls still call her their frenemy. One of the discussion questions at the end of the book is whether Becca being one of the narrators changed your opinion of her. To be honest, I’ve only read Pies & Prejudice and Becca didn’t have a large role in that book. However, I knew a lot of girls like Becca when I was fifteen or so, and I thought she was realistic, if a bit unlikable at times. The other girls are much the same as ever. What I like most about this group of girls as that instead of sitting by passively they make things happen, especially when a friend is going through a tough time. They are all very driven girls who have found their passions, despite how young they are. These books are mainly character driven and don’t have a plot that’s easy to describe: the story is mainly about their relationships with each other, with boys and with their families. Although you wouldn’t guess it from reading the description, I find these books hard to put down and I practically devour them. Home for the Holidays captured the holidays perfectly, with help from references to the Betsy-Tacy books. I love the holiday traditions the girls start based on the books. It was a great addition to the series and I wish more than ever that these books were around in my younger years. I need to read the earlier books in the series. Nothing is better than reading about girls who love books as much as I do!


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