The Christmas Blessing

[openbook booknumber=”1591451310″]


This book is a sequel to the New York Times Bestseller The Christmas Shoes. I had no problems picking up the storyline though as it cut back and did back story constantly throughout The Christmas Blessing to cover pertinent areas for this new book. The book is about the star of The Christmas Shoes a little boy named Nathan that wanted to buy shoes for his mother dying of cancer. In The Christmas Blessing Nathan is now all grown up and, in the wake of his mother’s death, is now a third year medical student and is facing some difficult decisions. He is wondering if this is really his calling, and is having a tough time during a rotation in cardiology at a nearby hospital. While there he meets a young woman who has conquered her health problems, or so she thinks, and a little boy dying of them. Can these two give him the hope he needs to push towards his dreams?

As a warning, I will say that this turned out to be a Christian novel, with a lot of discussions of faith, some bible quotes, and prayer. Some people like to know these things before getting into a book. So, consider yourself warned. It wasn’t enough to turn me off of the book, at least not the Christian angle alone, though I will say I did find a lot of the arguments and discussions about faith and death to fall terribly flat. It was preaching to the choir.

Meghan and I talked about music – she loved Ella Fitzgerald. “What about all the hip acts that college kids love? Do you like any of them?”
       “Like who?”
       “I don’t know all their names. Snoop Diggity Do and all those hip cats.” Meghan shook her head and laughed. We talked about movies – she loved anything made before 1964. No wonder I thought she was older; she was an old soul in a young body.
       “So what’s your favorite movie?” I asked.
       “To Kill a Mockingbird.” My mother would have liked Meghan. She made my father and me watch To Kill a Mockingbird with her when I was in first grade. It must have been the twentieth time she’d seen it, but she still cried at the parts that made her weepy-eyed the first nineteen times.

I did not like this book. I could not believe that The Christmas Shoes made it on to the New York Times Bestseller list if this is how the author honestly writes. I noticed a reviewer on Amazon mentioned that this book seemed like it was written to be made into a movie, and perhaps that was my problem with it. It read more like a screenplay than like a novel.

The dialogue was stilted, wooden and often superfluous. It’s like this author wrote how they thought people talked, and not how they actually do. I could tell that there were jokes being said by the characters but the delivery, while perhaps successful if done through an actor’s inflection and maybe hand gestures instead of solely through the medium it was provided in, fell flat on the page. There was also a lot of conversation that just didn’t do anything. It didn’t advance the plot, illuminate a character, or even serve to be amusing, it was just filler and dull filler at that.

Then there was the amount of telling going on in the story, and the lack of showing. Two reasons for this could be that, first off, this was written more like a screenplay than a novel, and secondly that the author needed to explain it because more than just myself was completely lost by the way these people acted and spoke. Again, it was more like how the author thought people did things, not how things are actually done, or at least it seemed so to me. I was frustrated by the amount of telling, but I also admit that without it this book wouldn’t have had very much meat at all, and might have been incomprehensible.

Foreshadowing was another thing that bothered me. I would read something that I was certain was going to foreshadow something else, just to find out actually it was just a useless tidbit included for no reason. When they finally did foreshadow, it wasn’t foreshadow as much as more or less give away the plot for the next several chapters. Granted, the author did not give away the ending at least. In fact, the reverse, the author pretty much flat out told the reader things were going to end one way, doing everything but wave a flag and point and shout to look the other way and then, bam, pulled out a different ending. It wasn’t really surprising, I only briefly entertained the notion that she might end it the first way simply because, by that point, I thought that little of her.

The book was redeemed somewhat by the ending. I was surprised once, by one twist, and so that made me feel a little better about the book overall. In the end though I felt like I was reading a book about some other parallel world where people thought and spoke and acted very differently from us. I couldn’t relate to these people, I couldn’t get their jokes, I couldn’t understand their inferences, or place myself in a position where I could sympathize with their problems. I was completely at a loss to understand them or their world.

The last third of the book all of the characters spent in tears and I couldn’t even get a little choked up about it. Sure, what they were going through was trying, horrible and devastating. But, it was not written in any sort of way to make me empathize with that. Could this author tell a story? Absolutely. Could this author write a book? No way.

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