I’ll be Home for Christmas

Is there such a thing as a happy home at Christmas? Well, it depends on which of these fourteen stories you read, all written by the UK’s top authors for young adults and compiled in aid of the homelessness charity Crisis.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas has stories of varying lengths and styles, written by both women and men, whose biographies and pictures are listed at the back of the book which are useful to flick back to every now and then.

One thing is for sure – friends are as important as families, especially at Christmas time. And ironically perhaps, it is the most unconventional family that seems to be the happiest, as portrayed in ‘Homo’ by author Juno Dawson. In ‘After School Club’ by Holly Bourne, two teenagers from very different backgrounds team up because they both come from lonely, unhappy homes and there’s also a touching story from Kevin Brooks about a friendship between two tramps. Tracey Darnton’s award-winning piece – ‘The Letter’ – about a childcare worker and her teen charge deservedly takes first prize, the prose leaping off the page.

There’s stories of hardship and resilience too, as in Benjamin Zephaniah’s poem and Melvin Burgess’s alarming story told from the point of view of a young terrorist about his corrupt prime minister of a father whom he despises. In contrast, Julie Mayhew’s story ‘The Bluebird’, tells of the irrepressible love of a daughter for a depressed father whom she refuses to give up on.

A joy to read, from start to finish. YA