What is it with these Christmas books? No matter how much alike they are, no matter how predictable, you can’t get through them without crying.
This one is about a young woman, Beth, who was not having a good life. It was 1989. Beth discovered her husband was cheating. A lot. Nevertheless, she decided she still loved him and would forgive him, only to find out he was dying of pancreatic cancer. He died in October. Meanwhile, her daughter Charlotte developed a mysterious disease no one could diagnose. Between the medical bills for her husband and daughter, Beth could no longer afford payments on her house. Then on Christmas Day, during a quick trip to the neighborhood 7-Eleven, she met a handsome stranger, Matthew, who changed her life forever.
However, when we first meet Beth in a prologue, it’s Christmas Eve, 2008, and she is married to Kevin.
The desire to find out what happened in the intervening years keeps you reading to the end, when we come back full-circle to the beginning.
Discussion: This book is of the “holiday book” genre in which you expect certain tropes, like magic or angels, and in which you do not expect to find multisyllabic words or high-flown prose. Even accepting the parameters of the genre, however, the author seems to have forgotten some important parts of the plot set-up. Thus, in spite of the appealing aspects of his main conceit, there are crater-sized holes in the logic that the author just elides over at the end. However, this didn’t stop me from crying. Christmas books, Christmas movies, Christmas commercials – doesn’t matter: they turn me into a eye-leaking mess.
Evaluation: A readable Christmas book with a fun twist, albeit with a couple of gapingly large plot holes.
Published by Simon & Schuster, 2010