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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

This book is a collection of three separate, but intertwined, short stories. In the first vignette, “Jubilee Express” written by Maureen Johnson, 16-year-old Jubilee Dougal is forced to take a train to Florida after her parents are arrested in a riot of shoppers desperate to buy a limited collector’s piece of a Christmas village. The trip is even more depressing because she must leave before her boyfriend, Noah’s, Christmas Eve party.

On the train, she meets Jeb, a young man desperate to get back together with his girlfriend, who lives in Gracetown, Pennsylvania. They are also inundated by a group of cheerleaders on their way to a competition. When the train becomes stuck in a snow bank outside of Gracetown, they all decide to head to the Waffle House that they can see in the distance.

Grace strikes up a conversation with a teenager named Stuart who eventually offers to let her come stay at his house since the train will not be able to run for a long time. She accepts his offer, and the two trudge through the storm. As they near his house, he gives her the option of walking through the neighborhood or taking a short cut.

Jubilee decides on the short cut, but the two fall through ice into a creek. Soaked through and freezing, the two make it to Stuart’s house, where he immediately demands Jubilee take a hot shower to warm up. When she finishes, she discovers someone has taken her clothes and left her dry ones in exchange. She finds Stuart’s mother in the kitchen and is greeted with hot chocolate and food.

Before falling asleep on the couch, Jubilee calls Noah. Although it is 3 in the morning, she hopes her boyfriend will console her. Instead, he groggily tells her to call him back tomorrow. Confused, Jubilee falls asleep.

In the morning, Rachel, Stuart’s energetic little sister, wakes up Jubilee. Although Jewish, the family still celebrates Christmas, and the 5-year-old can’t wait to open her presents. Stuart finds the number for the jail where Jubilee’s parents are being held, and she is able to talk to her mother. When Jubilee tries to talk to Noah again, he rushes her off the phone with the excuse that his family is just sitting down to eat.

Stuart’s mother takes Rachel outside to play in the snow, leaving Jubilee and Stuart in the house alone. While the two play a game, Noah finally calls. Jubilee tries to explain everything that happened over the past day, but once again, Noah rushes her off the phone, promising to call back later.

Stuart tells her that Noah’s behavior shows he actually wants to break up with her. Noah is acting exactly how Stuart’s girlfriend, Chloe, did before they broke up. Indignant, Jubilee runs upstairs to Stuart’s bedroom and calls Noah. She confronts him with Stuart’s idea, and Noah admits he was only waiting until after the holiday to break up with her.

Stuart comes in and tells how his girlfriend had been cheating on him. He caught her at a Starbucks with another boy. Stuart and Jubilee begin kissing but are interrupted when Stuart’s mother and sister come in from the storm.

Humiliated at her behavior, Jubilee finds her dry clothes and tries to sneak away to the train. Stuart tracks her in the snow. The two kiss again, and Jubilee returns to spend the rest of Christmas with Stuart and his family.

A ”Cheertastic Christmas Miracle” by John Green tells the story of Tobin, JP and the Duke. Tobin’s parents are stuck in an airport while Tobin and his friends are home watching movies. They are interrupted by a call from their friend Keun, who works at a Waffle House. Keun explains that 14 cheerleaders are stranded at his restaurant and want to play Twister. He explains that there are two other employees who are also calling friends. The first set of friends to arrive will get to stay. The others will have to go home so that they do not upset the cheerleader to boy ratio. Despite the storm, Tobin and JP are determined to spend the night with the cheerleaders. The Duke, a girl, is not thrilled at the prospect, but goes because Tobin promises to buy her hash browns.

The three have a wild ride through the blizzard, eventually ending up stuck in a snowdrift. Instead of calling for help or walking back home, they continue on to the Waffle House. It becomes a crazy race as they try to make it there before the others.

Along the way, Tobin slowly comes to realize that he is actually falling for the Duke, even though they have been friends for years. When they arrive at the Waffle House, Tobin tries to dismiss his feelings and flirts with one of the cheerleaders. The Duke leaves the restaurant, and Tobin follows her outside. They finally admit their attraction and share a kiss in the snow. They spend the next few days enjoying the thrill of their new relationship.

In “The Patron Saint of Pigs” by Lauren Myracle, Addie wakes up lonely on Christmas, since she cheated on Jeb, her boyfriend, and they broke up. Addie tried to reach out to him via email, asking him to meet her at Starbucks on Christmas Eve, but he never showed. Her friends Dorrie and Tegan come over to try and cheer her up, but only succeed in making her feel worse as they point out how selfish and childish she has been in her relationship with Jeb.

Dorrie reminds her of the breakup a classmate, Stuart (the same Stuart in the first story) had in Starbucks — a breakup Addie witnessed as she worked there. Addie hates to be compared with Stuart’s old girlfriend and vows to change. As her first act of unselfishness, Addie wants to help make Tegan’s dreams come true.

Tegan has always wanted a pig for a pet. Her parents finally consented and the teacup pig, Gabriel, is supposed to be delivered to the pet store the following day. Since Addie has four-wheel drive and has to work at Starbucks in the morning, she promises Tegan that she will pick up Gabriel from the pet store and deliver it to her.

At work the next morning, Addie battles depression over losing Jeb. The songs on the radio only make things worse. When Tobin and Angie (aka the Duke) come in early for coffee, Addie recognizes the early stages of love. Tobin and Angie settle into the corner to talk. A group of seniors arrive for coffee, and one of them, Mayzie, says she wants to be a Christmas angel. She also reiterates what Dorrie told Addie the night before, that she needs to forget about herself and think about others.

When Addie finally remembers to head to the pet store to pick up Tegan’s teacup pig, she is told that someone else bought it. Addie distracts the clerk so she can steal the receipt and track down the customer. She discovers it is Mayzie, the old woman from Starbucks. Mayzie wanted to force Addie into doing something for someone else. Although at first angry, Addie realizes that she feels really good for helping her friend Tegan get her pet. She promises to return to visit Mayzie during the week so the older woman will not be so alone.

Addie heads back to work, with Gabriel the pig stuck inside her pocket. Tobin and Angie are still enjoying their drink when Stuart and Jubilee come in. Addie is happy that Stuart seems to have gotten over his old girlfriend. Tobin’s ears perk up when her boss calls out her name. He soon realizes that she is Jeb’s old girlfriend, and he was supposed to deliver a message to her. Addie is beyond excited to learn that Jeb was delayed because of the train and that he still wants to see her. Dorrie and Tegan arrive to pick up Gabriel. Jeb enters behind them. Jeb accepts Addie’s apology, and the two share a romantic kiss to celebrate their reconciliation.

Christian Beliefs

As the three stories take place around the Christmas holiday, there is a lot of talk about angels and miracles. Overall, however, the true reason for celebrating Christmas is not discussed. Tobin’s friend Keun, the acting manager at the Waffle House, claims the Lord Almighty sent the cheerleaders to the restaurant as an act of kindness for his servant. Jubilee describes Keun’s face when he sees the cheerleaders as glowing as if he were in the midst of a religious epiphany.

Other Belief Systems

Several characters are Jewish but still celebrate the secular aspects of Christmas. (It is uncertain whether they are Jewish by race or religion.)

Authority Roles

Parents play little to no role in the lives of the characters. Jubilee’s parents are arrested, through no fault of their own, in a riot of crazed Christmas village fans. Stuart’s mother immediately tries to get Jubilee and her son romantically together. Tobin’s parents are stuck in an airport. Addie’s mother tries to get her to talk about her broken relationship, but Addie wants nothing to do with her.


God’s name is used in vain throughout the stories, alone and with oh my. Christ and Jesus are also used in vain. A person is flipped off. A-- is used alone and with hat and hole. H---, d--n and b--ch are spoken. Other objectionable words are: Holy crap, slut, screw, butt, d--k, freakin’, p---ed, heck, skanky omigosh and plotz.

“A Cheertastic Miracle” has a few moments of threatened violence while Tobin, JP and Angie try to beat the other boys to the Waffle House. Cars spin into snowdrifts and verbal threats are hurled, but no one comes to blows.


Jubilee recalls her first kiss with Noah. She and Stuart share several kisses, one on his bed and one in the street. Tobin and Angie share a kiss. Addie talks about the events leading up to her cheating on Jeb at a party by passionately kissing another boy. She and Jeb make up with a kiss at Starbucks.

Jubilee mentions several times that her name makes her sound like a stripper. She gives a few descriptions of how she thinks a stripper dances. She is angry that Stuart thinks all girls, including cheerleaders, will willingly sleep with a man if she thinks he is the last male in the area.

JP makes a crude joke about an actress. Angie makes a crude comment about his testicles. Keun remarks several times about how the cheerleaders are extremely hot. JP thinks he looks like a 70s porn star in his baby blue ski suit. There is a lot of talk about sexuality in relation to cheerleading.

Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments/Notes

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

12 and up


John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle






Record Label



Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group


On Video

Year Published





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