cover image Finding My Elf

Finding My Elf

David Valdes. HarperTeen, $19.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-328888-1

When Cuban American college student Cam comes home for winter break after his first semester at NYU, he does so feeling like a failure. Not only has he not found a boyfriend—or many friends at all—his grades are so poor that he’s in danger of losing his theater scholarship. He believes that his only hope of affording the following semester is to get a seasonal job, and the sole place hiring is Santaland, a bustling Christmas village at the town’s new luxury mall. There, Cam plays the role of one of Santa’s elves, just in time to participate in a Santaland-sponsored contest for $5,000, in which customers vote for best elf following a series of challenges. Cam is certain that he’ll win, but when he learns he’ll be competing against gorgeous, perfectly perky fellow employee Marco, who is of Filipino descent, he worries he’ll have his work cut out for him. Via a breezy yet thoughtful approach, and with the boys’ gently blossoming romance inciting warmth and cheer, Valdes (Brighter Than the Moon) conceives a holly-jolly rom-com filled with enough humor, heart, and holiday spirit to deliver an upbeat stocking stuffer. Ages 13–up. Agent: Annie Bomke, Annie Bomke Literary. (Nov.)