Home for the Holidays (The Mother-Daughter Book Club #5) by Heather Vogel Frederick
October 4, 2011; Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
This Christmas season, join the girls of the mother-daughter book club for a variety of holiday-themed adventures! But unfortunately, nothing goes quite as planned for any of the girls. On a Christmas cruise with their families, Megan and Becca fight over the dashing son of the ship's captain. Cassidy and her family fly back to California to visit Cassidy's sister Courtney... but when the West Coast causes homesickness for their former life in Laguna Beach, the family begins to question what state they should call home. And a disastrous sledding accident causes both Emma and Jess to completely change their holiday plans.
Between squabbles, injuries, and blizzards, everything seems to be going wrong. Will the girls be able to find their holiday spirit in time for Christmas? (courtesy of Goodreads)
Home for the Holidays is the penultimate book in one of my favorite middle grade series, the Mother Daughter Book Club. We've been with these girls since they were eleven years old. Now they're fifteen turning sixteen. The book club goes on. The club even grew from four daughters to five. Now the girls consist of Emma, Cassie, Jess, Megan, and Becca.
Each book in the series is set during a different year in the girls' lives. In a slight twist, Home for the Holidays took place during the first half of the girls' sophomore year in high school. The next book, I assume, will constitute the second half. The book club is reading the Betsy Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. So wonderful! These are some of my favorite books. I am thrilled that Ms. Frederick is exposing a new generation of readers to these classic tween/teen novels.
The best part about Home for the Holidays is the addition of Becca's point of view. The story alternates from each girl's point of view. Until now, Becca was the only member of the club excluded. I assume this is because she was a later addition to the club and also tends to be a popular mean girl - a "frenemy." Now we have the opportunity to understand her better. Becca is sassy and somewhat mean, even in her internal chatter, but her good heart and general good intentions are more clear when seeing the world through her eyes. Becca is arguably the main character of this novel, since the main (although not the only) crisis plot point - that her father lost his job - involves her.
As usual, the book's plot very loosely follows the trajectory of the book club's chosen novel, or novels in this case. Much like Betsy and her Crowd, there is great emphasis on friendship, having fun, and boys. Influenced by Betsy In Spite Of Herself, the characters all travel over Christmas. This is where the problems start. Fighting, fighting, fighting. Ms. Frederick always does a good job of assigning flaws to otherwise likeable characters. The alternating points of view make the arguments even more interesting (and frustrating) since the reader knows what each character is thinking but the characters suffer from mistaken impressions or say things that we know they internally regret.
Home for the Holidays is another fun installment of the Mother Daughter Book Club series. While I wanted to knock the girls' heads together occasionally and get them to stop fighting, mostly the book is pure reading pleasure. I loved the incorporation of the Betsy Tacy series. I continue to admire Ms. Frederick for using 16 year old girls as the main characters in a middle grade series, making their lives realistic of the many teens who lead fairly tame, clean lives without alienating either older or younger readers.