Cameron thought that going to college would be when his life started, but he’s failing his theater classes, on the cusp of losing his scholarship, and hasn’t found his “people” yet. Now he’s home for winter break and, in a desperate attempt to avoid a hard conversation with his dad, he takes the first acting gig he can—as a mall elf. It’s not all bad though; there is a competition with a cash prize for the most festive elf in Santa’s Village and Cam is determined to win the prize so he can continue attending college. But the competition is fierce, especially against Marco who just oozes Christmas spirit. As the competition continues, Cam starts to wonder if this weird consumerist nightmare is where he might have finally found somewhere to belong.

This story was exactly the fun holiday romcom it set out to be. Cam is an incredibly relatable character who is trying to figure out who he is and where he belongs. He makes some questionable decisions, but they make so much sense as a teenager in his position. Valdes has managed to capture the teenage voice in a way that is authentic yet not grating (oh no, am I at the point of old age where I can’t relate to the youths anymore?!)

The found family element of this story came as a surprise in the absolute best way. The crew at Santa’s Village all had such distinct and fun personalities. And not only does Valdes allow Cam and Marco to have wonderful character arcs, but the side characters also grow and change during the story, rounding it out in a beautiful way.

Was this a book filled with surprises, twists, and turns? Not exactly. But was it an absolute joy to read and help get into the holiday spirit? Abso-freaking-lutely! Despite the fact that it was fairly easy to figure out how the book would end, it was a fun journey to reach the end and I, for one, needed this little pick-me-up.

Also, if anyone wants to start a holiday cookie party annual tradition, I'd like to be at the top of that invite list. IYKYK.

FINDING MY ELF by David Valdes is available now and you can grab a copy here.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2024 Book Recommendations."