This Christmas YA novel was on our TBR list for this holiday season, so here are our thoughts!
Paige can’t make a decision to save her life. She lives in constant fear of the “what if’s” and when things spiral out of control there is only one person who can help her, Fritz. Fritz is Paige's best friend and he is perfect. His dreamy blue eyes have mesmerized Paige ever since she first met him, but she would never tell him that. Paige has watched Fritz go from girl to girl in the vain attempt to find his true love. Fritz may seem like a player, but Paige knows the truth, he is a hopeless romantic. When she is invited to his family’s cabin for Christmas just after he breaks up with his girlfriend, Paige is thrilled. This is her chance.
Before Paige has time to celebrate, her mom comes home with the present of a lifetime, tickets to New York City. Paige has wanted to go for as long as she can remember, but is it worth missing out on Christmas with Fritz in his romantic holiday cabin? Two very different, but equally possible, scenarios play out and Paige will soon learn that she can’t be anxious about making the wrong decisions forever.
(Skip to the last section to avoid spoilers.)
Paige is an anxious, imaginative teen who is painfully relatable. She knows what she wants with her life, but just isn’t sure how to get it. Paige’s character was interesting because in each of the different scenarios, she seemed like a different person. In New York City, she was carefree and adventurous while she was more reserved and cautious at the cabin. It was great to see both of these personalities mix together in the end to create her most true self.
Fritz is your stereotypical heart throb. Jock with good looks, sense of humor, hopelessly romantic, and has a love for chick flicks, what more could you ask for in a fictional boyfriend. McDowell knew what she was doing when she wrote up this charmingly irresistible character, but he is almost two perfect. His character didn’t really have a lot of depth or development, but he served his purpose as the ideal love interest, so we can’t really complain.
Harrison on the other hand was extremely confusing. His bad boy character mixed with a love for books? For all of our fellow Gilmore Girls fans, you may recognize this description for the beloved Jess Mariano. We’ve seen this trope a thousand times, but something about Harrison was different. Similar to Fritz, he didn’t have a lot of development until the very end where he just kinda left. (More on that later.) It didn’t really make sense and we felt as though he deserved a better ending.
Our Favorite Parts
One part that we loved was when Paige and Harrison go to his dorm and get stuck in the elevator. It was in this moment that we felt Paige unlocked the most daring side of herself. From that moment on, we see Paige start to make choices on her own even if she doesn’t realize it. (At least in that story line.) Paige becomes a braver and bolder person which we thought was great!
Another one of our favorite parts in the book was in the Cabin timeline was when Paige saw snow for the first time. Seeing snow was something that Paige was going to get no matter where she decided to go, but New York’s snow was a total let down. At the Cabin, Fritz takes Paige to the “North Pole” and they happen to see snow. It is a perfectly magical experience and her pure wonder makes us want to wish for snow!
We also loved the part when Paige and Harrison carry home a Christmas tree to put up in the apartment. The moment itself is small, but it makes a huge impact. The Christmas tree not only makes Harrison's dad happy, it also brings some much needed holiday spirit to their lives. Paige and Harrison also bond over their time spent on the Christmas tree including carrying it home, setting it up, and decorating it.
What We Would Want Improved
One big thing that bugged us about this book was the ending. It felt rushed and, although it was easier to have the two story lines end the same way, we felt that Paige should have had two different outcomes depending on where she had gone. The whole point of the book was to make decisions for yourself and live with as few regrets as possible, but no matter what had happened she would have had the same outcome.
Harrison, oh Harrison, he had so much potential! Harrison could have been a fantastic character, but we felt that at the end all of his character development just disappeared. Throughout the story, we see Paige slowly help Harrison out of his shell, but after Paige gets hit with a taxi and Fritz shows up, he reverts back to his old self. It was disappointing, yet we understand why it had to happen for the story to end.
***Rest Is Spoiler Free***
Overall, we would give this book a 3 out of 5 stars. This book wasn’t anything super special, but was a great holiday book to get us in the Christmas mood. One Way Or Another was the perfect mix of the classic coming of age story and Christmas. We would recommend this book to anyone looking for an easy and enjoyable holiday read!