Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: Marissa Burt
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Christa is obsessed with Christmas. But when her parents suddenly announce that they’re getting a divorce and the family trip to Europe over winter vacation is now going to be a mother-daughter trip, Christa’s favorite time of year becomes tainted. Although this trip is an amazing opportunity, Christa is disappointed about spending the holiday season away from her dad and instead with a “kid tour” made up her mom’s coworkers’ children. However, Christa’s father surprises her with packages that include twelve dares to complete throughout the trip. As Christa is reminded how to embrace uncertainty through her scavenger hunt challenges, she finds new friends, reconnects with her parents, rediscovers her love of adventures, and enjoys memorable experiences throughout beautiful European landmarks.
With Christa’s parents announcing their divorce in the first chapter, the reader is left with a character who struggles with coming to terms with this new reality throughout the remainder of the story. Through these struggles, Christa discovers that she can rely on other kids whose parents are divorced as she works through her feelings. At first, Christa is wary of some of the other characters, but a dare helps open her eyes to the lesson of never assuming the worst of others. After she realizes that everyone has an untold story that if she knew would allow her to understand them better, Christa becomes more willing to make efforts with the other kids. As she connects with the other kids and completes the dares, she learns that change is hard a lot of times, but that doesn’t mean it necessarily has to be bad. Sometimes change is hard simply because it’s different. The story focuses on embracing life at the fullest for the opportunities that present themselves and letting go of what you can’t control.