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Winter Town - Stephen Emond Winter Town is described as a great novel to curl up under the blankets and read book, and it is. The synopsis sets you up for a comfortably well-tread, yet endearing concept, that of best friends who grow up and sometimes grow apart.

Evan and Lucy grew up together, until Lucy's parents got divorced and she moves away and they only are able to see each other for winter break each year. In spite of the distance, they maintain a relatively inspired relationship, collaborating on a comic and having enough imaginary adventures to make many childhood friend duos jealous. But this year Lucy shows up with chopped up dyed hair, a nose ring and some serious attitude. In trying to figure out just what exactly happened to Old Lucy, what if New Lucy was always part of the old, and his own feelings for her, Evan stumbles into a complicated relationship of his old expectations and the future goals his family has set for him.

Both characters have authentic voices, with the novel starting off in Evan's head then switching over to Lucy's little over halfway. I think this works best, because the novel is really about how they hold each other in some kind of ideal during their perfect winter vacations, and how it's not exactly true. So while we get comfortable in Evan's perceptions and truly can't comprehend Lucy's behavior, we find out later that Evan's actions can sometimes be just as baffling to hers.

The side characters are also well rendered. Evan's friends are endearing and, while sometimes almost too quirky, it's easy to see them as believable. Evan's grandmother is, by far, the best character in the book for me. And it's easy to see the foilables of both their parents reflected in the personalities of the teens.

The one big weakness of Winter Town for me was that it meandered nicely in getting the two of them together, the eventual problems and revelations that split them apart seemed a little too haphazard. When they part there's a lot left unsaid between the characters, but the reader also feels like there should be more to it, and the problematic circumstances overshadow the feelings the characters would have about it. It's something the one year later epilogue can't quite manage to salvage.

That said, if you want a story--slightly bittersweet--about the first time really falling in love or enjoy childhood friends-turned-sweethearts then this book has a lot to offer. The comics are cute additions, really bringing the tone of the novel to life and become a great commentary for the events going on. This is the literary equivalent of one of those winter movies designed for some unapologetic sentimentality while still trying to stay grounded in the real world.