by Chelsea Bobulski
Publication: Octoboer 28, 2021
Series: All I Want for Christmas #1
**I received a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
“Be careful what you wish for” is the warning offered by All I Want for Christmas is the Girl Next Door (2021). Like books and films with similar plots, this alternate reality seems like a dream come true until moments here and there make the protagonist recognize this new reality isn’t perfect. Graham has loved the girl next door for as long as he can remember, but she’s dating his best friend. After wishing on a falling star, he wakes up to find Sarah is his girlfriend. While his wish has come true, he’s not as happy as he thought he would be.
This is a light YA holiday romance with a protagonist I found only mildly tolerable. In the beginning, his feelings for Sarah made me sympathetic towards his situation, but then his behavior began to irritate me. He was jealous over someone other than his girlfriend. He was pushy and kept wanting Sarah to be like how she was before the wish. One particular moment that made me dislike him even more was how he treated Sarah’s family after asking them to let him participate with them in a Christmas competition. He was disrespectful about their competitive spirit despite insisting to be part of the team.
While not exactly along the lines of the blurb that being together brings out the worse in Sarah and Graham, being together doesn’t bring out the best in them. Their changed behaviors are part of the ripple effects of the wish, and I thought this was done fairly well. I liked how this gradual realization leads Graham to understand that a single decision can have unintended consequences. In turn, he grows as a character and belatedly comes to realize that the things you wish for are not always what is best. Yes, the grass is not always greener on the other side.
While the book doesn’t offer anything particularly new, it reminded me why I love books and movies with these plotlines. They’re reminders for us to appreciate our present, and maybe things happen for a reason. We might not get everything we want, and, sometimes, what we want isn’t necessarily what we need. There might be something even better waiting around the corner if we are patient enough. Readers who want a holiday read and are looking for a predictable plot without the angst will enjoy All I Want for Christmas is the Girl Next Door.