Stay Another Day is a Christmas-set romcom in which three siblings find themselves back together in their family home, but things can’t just go as expected. Twins Fern and Rowan are home from their respective unis for Christmas, with Fern bringing her boyfriend to meet the family and Rowan’s best friend Syd along so they’re not alone for the holiday. Younger sister Willow’s eating disorder means she dreads Christmas, and the siblings’ parents seem to be hiding something. When Rowan recognises Fern’s boyfriend, it becomes even more clear that Christmas will not be a quiet affair for the McAllisters.
A cosy Christmas story that still tackles big issues like eating disorders, mental health, and the impacts of bullying, this book was exactly what I expected from Juno Dawson. It’s lighter than books like Clean and Wonderland, but it still has the zinger lines, messed up characters, and frank discussion of stuff that actually affects people alongside the Christmas drama and cute moments. The chapters move between the three siblings’ perspectives as secrets are told, feelings are dealt with, and the holiday season keeps happening regardless. There’s a nice narrative style for doing Christmas Day as well, which cleverly averts it from being the sort of Christmas story where the actual day is ruined by the drama.
In terms of the characters, there’s a lot to enjoy, with Rowan, the overdramatic gay brother who has put up too much of a shield to protect himself, and his best friend Syd, non-binary and dealing with a lot personally yet still full of sympathy for Rowan and for Willow, immediately standing out. I also really liked Willow and I feel there could definitely be a sequel that focuses on her and what she does next. Another key part of the book is the exploration of Fern’s boyfriend Thom’s bisexuality, which feels especially important as the book isn’t about him coming to terms with it, which has already happened, but about his life now and also partly about how other people react to it.
Stay Another Day gripped me from the start, with Dawson combining her trademark wit in the light of serious subjects with family drama and Christmas tropes like being stuck in a broken down car in the snow. It’s a fun read that becomes hard to put down and I could definitely imagine accidentally staying up too late reading this around Christmas. It’s ideal for fans of Juno Dawson’s books or anyone who wants a slightly more real and varied festive romcom.