This book takes place between two other books in the Pretty Little Liars series, between Unbelievable and Wicked. Having bought the first half set together, this book was not included, so this book was written later. Hannah, Emily, Aria, and Spencer’s story is each told over Christmas is Rosewood, Pennsylvania.
We begin with Hannah’s secret. Hannah’s father is moving in with his new wife Isabel, and her step-sister Kate. Hannah’s mother has taken a job overseas, allowing space for her father to move into the house. Hannah is quickly frustrated, she already doesn’t get along with Kate. Kate and Isabel celebrate Christmas and each year have a Twelve Days of Christmas celebration; Hannah being Jewish, and barely at that tries to avoid each celebration as much as possible.
Hannah is also frustrated when her boyfriend, Lucas, goes on vacation with his family, and another family that they are friends with. This family has a daughter Lucas’s age, and Hannah sees her as a threat. She also feels that she is gaining weight, and going back to the Hannah that she was in middle school, not the Hannah that she has transformed herself into. She decides to work out at the gym that she is a member of and ends up joining a boot camp. Here is where most of our story takes place. What will happen with her boyfriend Lucas, who she doesn’t hear from once he leaves for vacation, even though he promised otherwise? What will happen with her relationships with Kate?
We then begin Emily’s secret. Emily’s family has just accepted the fact that she is gay; but for Emily, it’s almost as if they are too accepting. After the statue of baby Jesus is stolen from the church where her mother donated it, Emily is asked to act as a spy on the group of girls that are believed to be the culprits- not only of stealing the statue, but also of causing problems around town. Will Emily be able to get the girls to allow her into their group?
Next is Aria’s secret. Aria is traveling to a lodge to celebrate the Winter Solstice with her father and brother. Her parents are divorcing, so her mother is not traveling with her, instead she is traveling overseas. Aria is excited to spend some time with her father, away from is pregnant girlfriend, Meredith. When they arrive at the lodge, her father says he has a surprise for them, and boy is Aria surprised; the surprise is Meredith. When she learns that they will not be in separate rooms, but rather sharing one room, Aria decides to head home to spend time by herself. Shortly after she arrives home, there is a knock at the door, and it’s her boyfriend from Iceland, Hallbjorn. He tells Aria that he was on his way to New York to see some friends when his plane was diverted to Pennsylvania, so he figured he would see Aria while he waits for his flight to New York. After some more talking, he admits that the reason he was on his way to New York was because he was wanted in Iceland for protesting. With only about a week left on his visa, they come to the conclusion that the only way that he can stay in the country would for him and Aria to get married. Will Aria go through with the marriage?
Lastly, it’s Spencer’s secret. Spencer’s family is traveling to her grandmother’s house in Longboat Key, Florida. Ali’s family also has a house here where they spend time, and Ali and Spencer had spent time down here when they were in fifth grade. Tensions are running high as the family travels. Melissa is still upset with Spencer about turning Ian in for Ali’s murder. Spencer’s parents are upset with each other for some reason, and are also barely speaking, and as usually, grandma left while they spend time at her house. Spencer is surprised when Melissa is suddenly nice to her and wants to spend time with her. She is even more surprised when Melissa offers to help Spencer get the boy she is interested in, a tennis player. Is Melissa really trying to be helpful? Will Spencer get the boy?
Beginning this book, it started off with Hannah’s Secret. I thought that there would be a true secret that she was trying to hide from everybody, and that each girl would have a secret that they were keeping. However, after reading, I felt that the secrets they were keeping were not the same as the secrets they were keeping in the other books in the series. I truly believe that only one girl has a true secret to keep at the end of the story, the rest just dealt with an issue.
Having read this book a few years after reading the series, it is hard to remember exactly how that characters are in the book, as they are different from the TV show. One thing that I remember from the books is that Emily’s parents are very strict, and this book did not seem to follow that. There were mentions of it, but they were not strict in this book. I wish there was more consistency with the characters throughout the books. I was also disappointed at the lack of interaction between the girls. Their interactions are brief, and with only one other girl.