Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles. She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books. She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben
Author: Donna VanLiere
This is not a weepy book. This book is filled with hope, faith, belief, love, magic, mysticism, anger, fear – you know, every facet of life (if you have a good one). I’ve never read the other books in this series, but I pray that I can hunt them down in my small town. Don’t be fooled by the title. This is not a Christmas book only. This is a book that absolutely everyone in the world should read and understand
Author: Donna VanLiere
As the daughter of a librarian and an author, reviewer, employee, and mom I’ve read, reviewed, and written books for years. I can honestly tell you that I’ve never read a book that was so close to my own life…before now.
The Christmas Secret begins with a scene where Christine and her mother are unpacking and unwrapping the porcelain nativity set that adorns their table every Christmas. While they’re unpacking, Christine asks a question that sets her mother telling one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever heard. (I won’t spoil the moment for you. I will just tell you to read this with a box of tissues beside you on the couch).
Very soon we are with Christine as an adult. You know, the time after you found out that there is No Wizard of Oz, no Scrooge…no fairytale. Just a lot of work, where you’re always trying so hard to get one step ahead, but the fates don’t want to help you out at all. Christine is now divorced (from a real moron), and is raising her son and daughter on her own. She is a waitress in her small town, with a boss who has told her that if she can’t be in on time, her job will come to an end. Of course, the very next day after this announcement, as she struggles to get babysitting care, a car comes to a stop at the end of her driveway and blocks her in. A woman is slumped over the steering wheel and Christine quickly administers CPR and calls an ambulance. Of course, her boss doesn’t believe this is why she’s late and lets her go.
Jason Haybert is flying home from the big, bad city to help his grandfather, Marshall Wilson, at Wilson’s Department Store in the small town where he grew up. Jason is one of those self-important people who went to college and landed a big job with a big office so that he could be free of the small town mentality and live like a king. Unfortunately for him, there were cutbacks and his big, important job turned into an unemployment check. Jason is nothing like his grandfather. He doesn’t “see” people, certainly not people that are “lesser” than he is, with his highfalutin diploma (like my grandmother used to say).
My favorite character is Marshall Wilson. This is a man, with his wife Linda, who has owned the small department store in the small town forever. Marshall is so smart and funny; he tells his grandson, Jason, that before he can receive any sort of paycheck he has to pass a test. Jason knows all the answers to the questions about the store, itself, as he was practically raised inside of the building, but the last question on the test is always written in by his grandfather and asks for the name of the, janitor, or head of the toy department in the store, etc. He wants to prove to his grandson that people are what matter, not money.
Characters abound in this book and I would like to at least tell you a little about them: Gloria and Miriam, two older women of the town that eat at the small bakery/restaurant named Betty’s where Christine, our main character, has landed a job. They are absolutely hysterical. Gloria is the head of Glory’s Place which is a center that helps single moms with childcare problems. There is a worker from the Department of Child Services named Patricia who is an excellent young woman, and I wish there were more like her out there. “The Bat Lady” is the next door neighbor of Christine who turns out to be a savior. Judy has been Marshall’s assistant for twenty-seven years and plays a major role in beginning the best story I think I ever read. (At least, it’s right up there with the love of my life, Mr. Darcy). There is also Betty, who runs Betty’s diner and plays a pivotal role in Christine’s life; and there is a mystery woman who roams through town looking lost and alone who Christine befriends, and learns the story of another who is far less fortunate than she. Every single person in this tale is connected to each other through a web of magnificent links written by a truly wonderful author.
Yes, I could go on and on with praise for the next ten pages, but I won’t. What I will tell you about is a scene where Christine wants with all her heart to give her kids a good Christmas. Her son hugs her and tells her that it’s okay if there isn’t enough money for gifts. Love is enough. It brought back the memory of my wonderful (now 17 year old) daughter when she was about six years old. We were about as down and out financially as we could get and I had no money for a tree. My girl didn’t care in the least. She took out all the green construction paper she could find and we made one…together…and taped it to the wall. To this day, that was the most beautiful tree I’ve ever had.
Another “perfect” moment in this story is when Jason finds a small box with a single solitaire diamond on a gold chain in his grandfather’s desk. The grandfather asks Jason if he’s ever seen something that made him, “breathless and humbled at the same time.” Jason said he didn’t think the necklace was all that special, and his grandfather replied that he wasn’t talking about the necklace; he was talking about Jason’s grandmother. My grandparents and my parents were exactly like that. They checked on each other when they were in the same room. Dad gave flowers to my mother, just because; no other reason except he was him and she was her, and they were an absolute perfect match.
This is not a weepy book. This book is filled with hope, faith, belief, love, magic, mysticism, anger, fear – you know, every facet of life (if you have a good one). I’ve never read the other books in this series, but I pray that I can hunt them down in my small town. Don’t be fooled by the title. This is not a Christmas book only. This is a book that absolutely everyone in the world should read and understand.
To the author, I must apologize for using her words, but I can’t think of anything else that really fits. I am ‘breathless and humbled at the same time’ to have read this absolutely fantastic book. Thank you for that.