The twelve topsy turvy very messy days of Christmas

by James Paterson and Tad Safran
Century (Penguin Random House Group), London, 2022

Age group: 12 and older
Format: 304 page paperback

Doing some recent Christmas shopping, I spotted “the twelve topsy turvy very messy days of Christmas”. I admit it took me a little while to notice the full title as I just honed in on the 12 days of Christmas! There aren’t a huge number of adult Christmas books, and James Patterson is a good author, so thought I’d give it a go!

The story

Henry Sullivan and his twelve and fourteen year old children have avoided happiness and and Christmas for the five years since Katie/Mum died. This year, a mistake by the kids leads to an incredible series of events for the Sullivan family.

My review

This is not a typical Christmas-romance or a drama vaguely related to Christmas. It is an unusual story set in the days leading up to Christmas.Front cover of "The twelve topsy turvy very messy days of Christmas" by James Patterson

Things are a bit sad without Mum and without Christmas so the kids try to find Henry a date. One woman responds, a Ms Truelove, and things get interesting…

From a simple life in an okay house, the Sullivans are thrust into chaos that includes many birds, some cows and non-English speaking house guests! The animals make a mess and the guests take over the bedrooms.

Meanwhile, Henry has to win over his Dean, Ella is busy painting scenes for the school play, and Will has bikes, ‘friends’ and fights to worry about. This all adds to the chaos and the reality of this book. No one of the three dominates the book which is part of why it can appeal to all age groups.

Easy to read and with short chapters, it’s a good book for this busy time of year, too. Certain elements are predictable but there is a wonder how each expected action will be done. The overall story though is refreshing and is full of the unexpected!

The book was written in a way that helped me ignore the sadness underlying the book. Before the gifts arrive, the family has little food and no Christmas (or other) cheer. Henry has obviously been stuck in his grief and let his responsibilities as a father slide.

Of course, there is a happy ending and the chaos was good for the mourning family. I’m glad I’m not the one left with cleaning up the mess and repairing the house, though!

Would I recommend it? Yes! This book is fun and suits all ages except young children. It is Christmassy and quirky, and would be a good beach or holiday read, too!

The Twelve topsy turvy very messy days of Christmas - Christmas book review