Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review of New Christmas Books

I just finished reading two books released for the holiday season by authors who seem to be setting themselves up as “Christmas authors,” each having written stories set in the season at least once before. Glenn Beck’s new book, The Snow Angel, follows on his book The Christmas Sweater. Richard Paul Evans new book, Lost December, follows on his books The Christmas List, Finding Noel, The Christmas Box Miracle, and of course the hugely successful The Christmas Box. I liked all of their prior works, and was not surprised to find I liked these two also.

Both of these authors write books that are relatively short (large print, small pages, lots of white space), and have short chapters. Beck’s 270-page book has 18 chapters, and Evan’s 341 page book has 51 chapters. The plots in each are relatively simple and easy to follow, not involving huge numbers of characters or scene changes. The short chapters coupled with the colorful artwork highlighting chapter changes are visually attractive. I believe these books would be ideal Christmas presents for teens or near-teens, who might be prone to short attention spans. If they read at all, the books should hold their interest and, perhaps most importantly, present a moral message to them that comes across loud and clear. They will make young minds think --- most assuredly a good thing. I have already written a dedication on The Snow Angel to my Goddaughter, who will receive it this year.

The dust cover describes The Snow Angel as “a poignant tale about family, forgiveness, and the freedom to live a future free of the past.” The lead character, Rachel suffered an abusive childhood, and then fell into an abusive marriage. She shields her young daughter Lily from the tragic parts of her life, and her father, but the daughter sees and understands, perhaps better than Rachel, what is going on. The story walks through their coming to know that other people care, and that the past doesn’t have to define the future. And at the end, old memories are stirred, in Rachel and in an Alzheimer’s patient at a local nursing home. And both come to realize that there was much good in their past, if only they can remember. And the bad parts were in the past, and they can stay there.


Lost December is a modern tale of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The main character, Luke, leads a blessedly sheltered, yet full life. Working at his father’s business at a very young age he quickly advances to be a very astute manager in his national business chain. After college, Luke plans to take over the business he knows so well, but his father insists he attend graduate school first, to get his advanced degree and “see the world”. And so he goes off to Wharton, living far away from home for the first time. And he is rather quickly taught many things about “the world” which he did not know. Graduating, and with a million dollar trust fund he returns home to tell his father he does not want to return to run his business, but rather to go out and “see the world,” traveling around it with college friends.

Evans goes on to tell the story of Luke’s travels and of his “friends”. Luke learns the ways of the world which he did not previously understand --- and learns that all is not good there. And he also learns that “friends” are not just people you hang around with, but that true friends are few and far between. Luke quickly wastes his money and in the end is broke and homeless. But of course, that is not the end.

Evens tells a very believable tale that reminds young and old alike that life is not just fun and games, nor should it be. And also that the best things you ever receive in this world are the things you work for. And that family, love and loyalty are of most importance.

I would give either of these two books, or both, to someone young or old --- or buy them for myself and just nestle down on the couch near the tree, and enjoy a present to myself this Christmas. I read both of these quick-reads once, but I just may do so again.

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