Review: In a Holidaze

Published October 6th 2020, 334 pages

Author: Christina Lauren

Overview from Goodreads:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays. 

Personal Review

Although I am a massive fan of The Unhoneymooners, their novel earlier this year, The Honey-Don’t List, was a disappointment. Therefore, I was a little hesitant to trust that The Holidaze would bring the promised magic and amazement that made me love these authors in the first place. I’m extremely glad that I gave this novel a chance because it was a true joy to read and made me fully in the holiday spirit (even though it’s October and hot in California)! This novel is like a warm hug and just makes you feel-good as you tear through the pages.

Maelyn Jones is a twenty-six year old graphic designer who awakes one holiday morning after making an embarrassing mistake. She just had a drunken make out with the brother, Theo, of her long-time crush, Andrew. Not only did the kiss happen, but it happened during their annual holiday retreat where four families (including both of theirs) all come together. Regret over this situation makes Mae wish to find her happiness. When she wakes up after a car crash on the way home, she’s back on the plane on the way to begin the holiday vacation over again. She relives her “Groundhog Day” over and over again as she just tries to figure out how to get it right.

Mae’s parents were each friends with their respective college roommates. Her mom was roommate with Lisa who married one of Mae’s dad’s college roommates, Ricky. Her dad and Ricky’s other roommates were Benny and Aaron. Mae has a seventeen year old brother, Miles and their parents have divorced with her mom remarrying a man named Victor (although he plays no role in this story). Lisa and Ricky are parents to Theo and Andrew. Benny is single right now with no children and Aaron and his husband Kyle have twins.  These sheer numbers of characters all play some role in the story and are a delight to read about.

Every character was enjoyable and you felt the chaos in some moments as there are tons of people all around as the events in the story take place. It felt like that scene in Home Alone where the family is all chaotic packing while having their pizza before they leave on the trip. You have A doing this and B doing that while we’re focused on C and D, etc. It was well-done and my only downside was that you never truly got to know everyone because there were tons of side characters. It would be fun to have tangent novels that focused on stories involving the others. Andrew unfortunately suffered the most as he is Mae’s love interest, but you never delve into his past feelings for Mae. You get glimpses and have to make assumptions, but a lot of his character isn’t fully explored. I wish the authors took a little bit more time to build up his character and why he was the perfect specimen in Mae’s eyes and why they would be a lasting couple. People can be the best of friends and have some romantic feelings for each other, but it doesn’t always equal a lasting relationship. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story as it is only a wish as I wanted to learn more about Andrew.

Mae is a very relatable character and I enjoyed reading everything from her perspective.  She feels defeated after giving up her life in Los Angeles and has moved back in with her parents. While living in her childhood home, she also works at a job she doesn’t love. With two areas of study in graphic design and accounting, she has been forced to focus on the accounting aspect and it’s draining her spirit. This is a concept that’s definitely relatable as many people, especially those in their twenties and thirties, have either found themselves in a similar situation or know someone that has gone through it (whether it’s living back at home or being a career you just feel stuck in).  Her one place that gives her comfort is the holiday cabin and she feels that she’s ruined it by making a drunken mistake with Theo and being notified that Theo and Andrew’s parents want to sell the cabin. Can Mae’s travels back in time not only repair things in her own life, but also save the cabin? Well, you’d have to read to find out.

Overall, this novel is one of the few that I have read that actually made me chuckle out loud in some places as there were moments that were purely ridiculous. It would be fantastic to see this play out on screen if it ever was made into a movie!  Although I had some small negatives where I just wanted more out of the characters, I loved every second of my reading experience. This is a heart-warming novel with some sappy moments thrown in. It is a light-hearted story that I highly recommend anyone to read!

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