In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Funny, inspirational, steamy, and warm-hearted, In a Holidaze contains the spirit of a Hallmark Christmas movie mixed with the wry humor of Groundhog Day. I was pleasantly surprised by its originality, heart, and sincere message about growing up and making authentic choices.

Maelyn Jones is feeling stuck – stuck in her dead-end job, stuck in her mom’s house, stuck in an unspoken, unrequited crush on Andrew Hollis. She was counting on Christmas to lift her spirits with her family and their friends’ cherished traditions, but not only did she drunkenly make out with the wrong Hollis brother, she just found out the Hollis’ parents are selling the cabin they’ve been gathering at for her whole life. In a desperate anxious spiral, she begs the universe to show her what will make her happy – which plunges her into a time loop reliving Christmas over and over. Clearly there’s something she’s meant to do, if she can only figure it out… She sets out to save the cabin (and herself) only to find herself falling in love along the way.

For me, this book was a delightful holiday interlude packed with not only humor and hijinks but also heartfelt insights into what it means to be happy and grown up. I loved that this book steered away from tropes like the standard love triangle – deep down, Mae knows exactly what she wants and doesn’t really waste time figuring it out. Her family was also a shining part of the book: endlessly supportive, well-drawn and diverse. That’s another trope avoided: Mae doesn’t have to go it alone, because her Uncle Benny quickly believes her about the time loop and tries to help her figure it out. Moreover, I think it’s important in these days of chosen family that the extended family group gathered at the Hollis cabin isn’t related biologically, but was formed through friendship.

These supportive family dynamics and her parents’ easy willingness to treat Mae as an adult make the book as a whole a breath of fresh air, especially when paired with the message that life’s too short to live in a way that’s not true to yourself and what you really want. The author also keeps the book well-paced and doesn’t get bogged down in too many repeated days, focusing instead on how quickly things can change and go in unexpected directions. As a result, the exploration of the time travel and higher powers behind it can seem light and sketched-in, but the character development and thankfully inevitable happy ending makes up for it.

If you need a restful read or a holiday book to add to your TBR list, definitely try In a Holidaze for good-spirited time traveling fun.

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