The Christmas Clash
by Suzanne Park
Publication: October 4, 2022
**I received a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
The Christmas Clash is a cute YA romance between artsy Chloe Kwon and all-around nice boy Peter Li. When both discover the mall is set to close and the fate of their families’ restaurants hangs in the balance, Chloe and Peter will have to set aside their rivalry to find a solution before the holiday deadline.
Chloe and Peter inherit the Li and Kwon rivalry, and it leads to some entertaining pettiness with an even better laying down of arms. I originally expected an enemies-to-lovers story, but this was more a rivalry with irritation and attraction mixed in. Because their rivalry was not written in a way that it would be insurmountable for them to become allies, when they started working together and eventually discovered their attraction to the other person, it was believable.
The plot is a familiar one–rivals working together to save a business–and is common to small-town romances. It did not offer anything unexpected but added greater nuance to the general trope with nontraditional leads and their experiences. The representation was one of the reasons why I was excited to read the book. Finding Asian Americans as leads in novels, whether YA or adult, is still difficult. There is also an emphasis on the immigrant experience. I related to some of what Chloe and Peter went through and, hopefully, many others will be able to relate to them as well, whether or not they identify as Asian American.
The plot is a timely one as department stores and malls are closing around the nation. It brings a hefty dose of nostalgia for a time when the mall was the place to shop and hang out with friends. I still enjoy going during the holidays because the spirit of the season is on full display. Park strategically gives Chloe and Peter holiday jobs that showcase a changing of the times. Chloe takes photos of people with a person dressed as Santa while Peter provides individuals with virtual experiences featuring holiday adventures. (Coexisting is entirely possibly!)
While I enjoyed the book, I missed the humor and some of the funny antics that were more overtly present in her previous novels, such as Loathe at First Sight and Sonny Song Will Never Be Famous. There were still plenty of cute moments that made me smile. Read this if you’re in the mood for a cute holiday romance, but do it on a full stomach. You might get a little hungry.