Author: Suzanne Park
Who’s naughty and nice at Riverwood Mall? In this hilarious holiday rom-com, two rivals get together to save their families’ livelihoods, and Christmas, too!
Chloe Kwon can’t stand Peter Li. It’s always been that way. Their families don’t get along either: their parents operate rival restaurants in the Riverwood Mall food court―Korean food for the Kwons and Chinese food for the Lis. Now it’s the holiday season and Chloe’s the photographer at the mall’s Santa Land, and Peter works at the virtual reality North Pole experience right across the atrium. It’s all Chloe can do to avoid Peter’s smug, incredibly photogenic face.
But it turns out the mall is about to be sold to a developer and demolished for condos. Eviction notices are being handed out right before Christmas. Their parents don’t know what to do, and soon Chloe and Peter realize that the two of them need to join efforts to try to save the mall. Just when it seems like they can put aside their differences and work closely (very closely) together, they discover that the Kwon and Li feud goes far deeper than either of them realize…
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The Christmas Clash is a YA holiday read that features two characters from rivaling families. Chloe Kwon’s family owns a Korean restaurant in the Riverwood Mall in Tennessee where she also is participating at a holiday booth taking photos with Santa. Peter Li’s family owns a Chinese restaurant in the same mall and works at the new virtual reality holiday booth. The mall setting was excellent as I love the general atmosphere and it felt relevant as there is discussion about declines in attendance, which is like reality.
Both of their families have been rivals for over 10 years, which means that Peter and Chloe have inherited it. I was expecting more enemies, but it just felt these two characters have some minor irritation to each other that goes away fairly quickly. The two characters even secretly meet multiple times to exchange food, so I wish that the enemies part came across better or it was eliminated entirely. Chloe wins a spot in a photography competition plus Peter deals with something of his own. On top of all of this, the mall is in danger and Peter and Chloe, both decide it is up to them to save it. The story has a lot of directions and I feel it was trying to do too much. There were moments where it felt too chaotic and there was not enough time to explore each subplot.
I was surprised that despite having Christmas in the title plus a holiday-like synopsis, that this book was not very holiday themed. The one piece that links it to a holiday is Chloe and Peter working second jobs at holiday booths. The story even begins about six weeks before Christmas, so this timeline came as a great surprise while reading. I think this novel could have easily taken out any holiday aspect and it would have read the same. I loved Chloe taking photos with Santa and Peter with the VR booth, so I wish that this just remained the focus. There’s enough material to make a rivalry from there, so I maintain that the author attempted too much. There is a lot of great commentary and exploration of race, family, and mall culture, but I think the story needed more focus to be fully enjoyable. I still enjoy the author’s style, though, and look forward to reading her other novels in the future.
Dancer Prompt: A book with a cursive/flowy/elegant font on the cover. (10 pt)