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The kids are coming home for the holidays and they can already smell the chestnuts roasting… or is that Mom’s hair on fire? For Tyler, Channing, and Sammy, home has always been filled with holiday magic courtesy of their mom Claire. But this year, when the three kids descend on their childhood home with significant others and kids in tow, something seems a little off-key—and it’s not just the carols. From bestselling author Chandler Baker comes a laugh-out-loud new short story for any mom who’d rather wreck the halls. Prime members read and listen to Oh. What. Fun. for free.
Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!
This week I am recommending a wintry read (but not holiday-focused!) for those of you who want to lean into that winter aesthetic. It’s finally snowing up a storm where I’m at, so I don’t mind hunkering down with some hot chocolate and a book and absorbing all the cozy vibes. Even if you don’t get the joy of snow, you can pick up this book for a magical winter setting!
The Wide Starlight by Nicole Lesperance
When Ellie was a child, her mother took her out onto a frozen fjord in their home in Norway, and whistled at the northern lights before getting swept away. No one believes Ellie when she recounts this story, and now she’s a teen living in Cape Cod with her dad. When the northern lights appear in the sky one winter, Ellie whistles at them…and they return her mother to her. But Ellie’s mother isn’t as she remembered, and as more strange and magical events occur, Ellie becomes convinced that the only way to get to the truth about what happened all those years ago is to return to her first home in Svalbard and face the past.
This is a beautifully written novel about loss and longing, infused with magic on every page. Ellie relies on the stories her mother told her in order to maintain a connection to her, but as the novel unfolds and she looks more closely at these fairy tales and sees them come to life in surprising and frightening ways, she gets to see her mother from another perspective. I loved the fairy tale elements in this book (and when I say fairy tales, think more of the traditional, grim stories rather than Disney) and the beautiful settings. As someone who has grown up in parts of the world that sees serious winter, I think there’s wonder in winter and it’s not often that books reflect that beauty and the harshness in equal measure. I also really enjoyed Ellie’s relationship with her family—beyond her mom, she has a wonderful and caring father, and she also has a very complicated relationship with her maternal grandmother that develops beautifully over the course of this book.
This book will pull at your heartstrings, but I think it will also have readers wanting to believe in magic as well. There’s truly nothing else like it in YA at the moment, and that alone makes it worth picking up! Bonus: The audiobook narrated by Brittany Pressley was quite excellent!
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