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Literature / Secret Santa (2007)

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A 2007 high school Christmas romance novel by Sabrina James, Secret Santa follows various students from different cliques trying to use the secret Santas they draw to pursue various crushes and goals. There is also a slight mystery element about who some of the secret Santas are. It is the first book in the North Ridge High series.

The book shares the same title as the Steve Hockensmith mystery-comedy short story.

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Tropes:

  • A Gift for Themselves: Amber sends herself expensive Secret Santa presents so she can brag to her friends about how her Secret Santa thinks that she's worth better gifts than most people get.
    Shawna: Amber always has to be better than everyone else. Even when it comes to Christmas.
  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Lily's boyfriend dumps her via email for a girl he met at camp.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Popular girl Celia has a big crush on motorcycle-riding troublemaker Jake Morrissey.
  • Alpha Bitch: Amber is a Spoiled Brat whose fashion designer mother buys her anything she wants. She relishes flaunting what she has and insulting her classmates. Even her followers Celia and Shawna secretly dislike her for the most part.
  • Beautiful All Along: Shawna's sister Chloe looks like "the BEFORE girl in makeover adds," but after she does get a makeover for the winter dance, she's described as "very pretty."
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  • Bully Hunter: When Charlie and Noelle were in elementary school, he stood up to a boy who hit her for using the monkey bars because she was a girl. This caused Noelle to fall madly in love with Charlie, even though she Cannot Spit It Out and he only dates older girls.
  • Cat Fight: When Amber presents herself to Charlie as the Secret Santa who was sending him romantic gifts, his girlfriend Liz is not happy, leading to a food fight and wrestling match.
  • Formerly Fat: In the second book, Be Mine, Natalie was a bullied fat girl until she stopped eating most high carb foods, exercised more, and had a growth spurt.
  • Girl Posse: Each book features a beautiful but insufferable Alpha Bitch with a couple of more likable sidekicks. Typically, the posse breaks up near the end of the book when the sidekicks assert themselves (due to Character Development in the first two books and Backstabbing the Alpha Bitch for her boyfriend in book 3), leaving a vacuum open for a new girl posse to show up in the next book.
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  • Gossipy Hens: Mindy Yee is constantly inquiring about new drama and spreading it across the school, although the third book reveals that this is because she's lonely and wants people to like her.
  • Got Volunteered: Celia got dragged into the local Girl Posse because Amber and Shawna were at a welcome party for her parents after they moved. The two thought Celia had the right fashion and popular culture tastes to join their group. By the time she realizes that she'd rather be friends with other people who Amber and Shawna look down on, she also realizes that leaving the group would make Amber see her as an enemy to crush.
  • High Heel Hurt: Shawna notes that while high-heeled boots "made her legs look great," they "weren't made for walking for hours."
  • Hired Help as Family: While not stated in so many words, Mindy Yee and her family's housekeeper Carmela have this dynamic in the third book, Spring Fling. Carmela is usually joking, concerned, or encouraging whenever she's talking to Mindy. She doesn't hesitate to caution her about her bad choice in friends to her face, and Mindy never gets angry or indignant when Carmela talks to her that way.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Freddy "Froggy" Keenan and his friend David are constantly talking about science fiction and fantasy movies and aren't exactly handsome.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Amber dislikes Mindy Yee, saying she only tolerates her because she throws good parties and her parents are rich. Shawna thinks to herself that Mindy only tolerates Amber for the same reasons. 
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: When Freddy realizes his crush (and gift recipient) Celia likes Jake, he offers to trade Secret Santas with Jake so Celia will think he's the guy leaving her romantic gifts, feeling that will make her happy.
  • Like Brother and Sister: A one-sided version. Charlie only sees his slightly-younger neighbor Noelle as a sister figure. Noelle starts out crushing over Charlie and then comes to dislike him for how causally he goes from one girlfriend to the next.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Simon is dating Amber (who is planning to dump him for Charlie, a Casanova currently dating Liz) and begins to fall in love with Connor's Secret Santa Lily based on her taste in gifts, only to start believing that Noelle is Connor's Secret Santa. Noelle is crazy about Charlie, not realizing that his brother Ryan loves her, with Noelle reciprocating once she does find out. Freddy likes Celia, who likes Jake. David would be happy to date anyone, but finds himself becoming closer with Shawna after her mother invites him to dinner when he helps her carry some bags home. Shawna eventually warms to David but still cares about her boyfriend Connor even as she wonders if they're drifting apart. Shawna's sister Chloe likes David. Lily isn't completely over her ex-boyfriend Jason, whose new girlfriend Sonia is getting romantic gifts from her Secret Santa: a football player named Dennis.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Simon is caught in the girls' locker room with his cellphone out. Even though he's just answering a call while delivering a Secret Santa present, the girls' gym coach doesn't believe him and gives him detention.
  • Put on a Bus: The second book mentions that Amber got sent to boarding school.
  • Secret Santa: The book is set around Christmas and follows several students, most of whom draw Secret Santas with some involvement with their crushes.
  • Settle for Sibling:
    • Noelle eventually realizes her longtime crush Charlie's brother is the better match for her.
    • David bonding with Shawna doesn't amount to anything because she and her boyfriend Connor are still in love, but Shawna's sister Chloe turns out to like David, and he isn't complaining.
  • Shipper on Deck
    • Charlie tells Noelle she and his brother Ryan would be a good couple.
    • Jake advises Celia to go out with Freddy.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Shawna reflects that Amber wasn't always a flat-out Alpha Bitch who had to one-up her own friends.
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