Libraries are being ransacked. France is torn apart by war. A French librarian is determined to resist. Told through smuggled letters to an author, an ordinary librarian describes the brutal Nazi occupation of her small coastal village and the extraordinary measures she takes to fight back.
Saint-Malo, France: August 1939. Jocelyn and Antoine are childhood sweethearts, but just after they marry, Antoine is drafted to fight against Germany. As World War II rages, Jocelyn uses her position as a librarian in her town of Saint-Malo to comfort and encourage her community with books. Jocelyn begins to write secret letters smuggled to a famous Parisian author, telling her story in the hope that it will someday reach the outside world.
France falls and the Nazis occupy Jocelyn's town, turning it into a fortress. The townspeople try passive resistance, but the German commander ruthlessly begins to destroy part of the city's libraries. Books deemed unsuitable by the Nazis are burnt or stolen, and priceless knowledge is lost.
Risking arrest and even her life, Jocelyn manages to hide some of the books while desperately waiting to receive news from her husband Antoine, now a prisoner in a German camp.
Jocelyn's mission unfolds in her letters: to protect the people of Saint-Malo and the books they hold so dear. Mario Escobar brings to life the occupied city in sweeping and romantic prose, re-creating the history of those who sacrificed all to care for the people they loved.
This is a beautiful story that went none of the places that I expected it to. It rejected most tidy standards for the historical novel market, particularly in Christian fiction, and told a powerful story regardless of where it led. It doesn’t take the easy way out, but rather presents a meaningful picture of reality. (This story is also based on true events as well, which adds a whole new layer to it.)
I was curious going in when I noticed it was a female lead written by a male author. (Not anything against male authors, but I had just come off of a very poorly written novel by a male author who hadn’t done his research.) Mario Escobar did an amazing job keeping the thoughts and perspectives true to female experience. Much applause.
Plus, can I just say how cool it was when they would talk about Spain and such, and to know that this guy actually knows what he’s talking about, lives it day in and day out? I felt like it added such a neat element to the story. I’d love to see more authors of different ethnicities telling their stories in the Christian fiction market.
This book does include infrequent language (four instances total, three of which appear in one chapter, Chapter 5 to be specific). I found the book at my church library where the words had been inked out.
Due to it being told in a letter format, I didn’t feel like I really got in Jocelyn’s head or really got to know her. I was reading a compelling story, to be sure, but I didn’t have a connection to the characters. I would have loved to see something more along the lines of Amy Lynn Green’s Things We Didn’t Say, which does a fabulous job connecting the reader to the character despite being told through letters.
What The Librarian of Saint-Malo lacks in character connection, it makes up for in powerful story.
Even if there be monsters, there is none so fierce as that which resides in man’s own heart.
Travel writer Amelia Balfour’s dream of touring Egypt is halted when she receives news of a revolutionary new surgery for her grotesquely disfigured brother. This could change everything, and it does . . . in the worst possible way.
Surgeon Graham Lambert has suspicions about the doctor he’s gone into practice with, but he can’t stop him from operating on Amelia’s brother. Will he be too late to prevent the man’s death? Or to reveal his true feelings for Amelia before she sails to Cairo?
The author has a way of writing that makes you feel like you’re reading a classic. You truly feel like you’re in Regency England—and yet her prose is still understandable and down to earth.
This story is wildly creative. I mean, really, how many Frankenstein retellings are there, period, much less on the Christian market? It’s the kind of book that sticks out and sticks with you.
The author is also a master of suspense. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened and actually noticed my heart racing at certain moments. The thing is, it’s not even like it’s an action packed story. It has its fair share, yes, but she managed to make me feel the suspense in everyday encounters, too.
The Scripture and theme are woven in without being pushy or overbearing. I automatically cringed when the characters were set up for a conversion arc, just because it is rarely done well. This novel handles it in a realistic and very-not-cheesy way.
I only had one negative thing to say about this book, but it was a big enough one that I debated whether or not to write this review. I try not to post negative reviews of a book unless there is something truly wrong with it (because it’s just mean to drag a good book down because it wasn’t your jam. Negative reviews hurt authors!).
This was a story that went down really well . . . but after an hour or so to think, I realized it had some major flaws in its representation of disabled persons. I searched the book on numerous book review sites and didn’t see anyone talking about this problem, so I decided to go ahead and write the review.
Please note this is NOT me discounting the book. I highly, highly doubt the author ever intended to present these messages. Sometimes we writers try to represent something well, and we just don’t get it right. We learn from our mistakes. And this is still a lovely book and an excellent read.
There is no way to discuss this without spoilers, so if you’re not interested in spoilers, please skip to the conclusion.
As you learn from the back cover copy, the main character (Amelia’s) brother, Colin, is facially disfigured. He plays the role of the monster in the retelling. (You can even see the token “grotesquely disfigured” line in the back cover copy above.
That’s a little bit of a cringey casting anyway—people with facial disfigurement are already cast as villains/monsters all the time, and who really wants to hear that they’re a monster all the time?
But then the entire story revolves around Colin believing he’s a monster, everyone else believing he’s a monster, and everyone desperately pursuing a surgery that will make him “normal.” While Colin eventually makes peace with himself, most of the other characters do not. In general, it feels as if they’re saying “we love you just the way you are, but if you could fix yourself, I mean, we won’t argue” feel.
Major spoilers begin here, so seriously.
In the third quarter of the book, Colin does unwillingly go through with the surgery, under pressure from the other characters. It goes wrong and causes injury to Colin’s brain, leaving him mentally disabled.
As soon as this happens, the plot immediately shifts to Amelia and everyone around her worrying about “the pressure.” How will Amelia ever handle it all? It’s such a burden to bear. She will never be able to travel again. It’s made a big deal that Colin is holding her back from her dreams and she’s having to sacrifice everything for him and he’s a terrible burden.
Is caring for a mentally disabled person a burden? Pressure? Stress? I imagine so. I can’t imagine the strength of some of these families. But this just stripped all the value from Colin—like he was good for nothing because he had a brain injury.
Shortly thereafter, Colin dies in the climax. First off, it was just entirely too convenient. Solved the problem so Amelia was no longer beholden to him. It seemed like a cheap way out.
We get a chapter or two of some very poignant grief—and then everyone just moves on. Amelia gets engaged (Graham conveniently proposed now that Colin’s out of the way) and is back to traveling to Egypt and living her best life. Never been happier. Because Colin’s out of the way.
All of this unintentionally sent the message that physically or mentally disabled persons are seen as monsters and are horrible burdens that hold those they love back from their best lives and selves.
I couldn’t help but think about how people with these disabilities or families that support them would feel reading this story.
I really wish Colin would have lived. I wish I could have gotten to meet Colin as he was with his injury. I wish Graham and Amelia would have committed to care for him and value him no matter what. I wish they would have acknowledged the challenges, yes, but also the blessings. I would have liked to see them have to make some hard choices. I wish Colin had been valued, not forced to go through with that surgery after all. I wish I could have seen Colin being allowed to be himself and overcoming the daily challenges of living with a disability.
Please remember, I do not believe for a second that this message was ever this author’s intention. The book otherwise was wildly creative and a solid read, and I’m still eagerly awaiting more in the series. Honestly, I think the rest of the series could be a wonderful chance to better represent disabilities in the future. This particular story just could have benefited from some time and maybe some more sensitivity readers.
If you’re looking for a fall read with just the right amount of spooky, Lost in Darkness is it. While marred by some poor representation of disabilities, maybe it will serve to spark some more thought about the real life people who face these challenges every day.
Two handsome brothers. An age-old Appalachian feud. And a love that may tear the Norgaard family apart.
After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of nineteenth-century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred-acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.
But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.
As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?
A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.
This book did an excellent job portraying issues rarely well represented in Christian fiction. I loved the thoughtful representation of Thor’s deafness, as well as sensitively handling his alcoholism. And she sensitively portrayed the struggles of a black family in this time period as well! Oh, and also addressed a character dealing with a close family member’s suicide. For real, how does she do it?
The book nailed the relationships between the three brothers. Each brother had their own unique personality, and it was neat seeing what brought them closer together and what annoyed them. Honestly, that was enough to make me keep reading.
And somebody just give Thor a cookie or maybe some coffee, okay? He went through so much.
On the subject of Haakon. I get where he was coming from, but Thor said he was sorry, okay? And proved it a million times over. And then Haakon goes and tries to do that big spoiler thing near the end? As an antagonist, he was spot-on—I understood where he was coming on but was also overwhelmingly frustrated with him.
Just reading the back cover copy, I steeled myself for another stereotypical love triangle, but the unique personalities of each brother really helped pull this one off.
While the brothers were super unique, I struggled a bit with Aven. She fell just a little on the stereotypical emotional woman side for me. I would have loved to have her share some of the uniqueness the other characters had.
This is not the fastest paced book I’ve ever read in my life, and there were a couple points where I had trouble getting into the story just because not much seemed to be happening. Her other novel I’ve read, The Gold in These Hills, was better paced in my opinion.
Sons of Blackbird Mountain sports unique characters, a diverse cast, and a twist on the love triangle for those ready for a slower pace.
*No picture of the cover was available.*
Sabina Mancari never questioned her life as the daughter of Chicago’s leading mob boss until bullets tear apart her world and the man she thought she loved turns out to be an undercover Prohibition agent. Ambushes, bribes, murder, prostitution—all her life, her father sheltered her from his crimes, but now she can no longer turn away from the truth. Maybe Lorenzo, the fiancé who barely paid her any attention in the last two years, has the right idea by planning to escape their world. But can she truly turn her back on her family?
All his life, Lorenzo’s family assumed he would become a priest, but he has different ideas—marrying Sabina and pursuing a career in the law. Despite his morals, he knows at the core he isn’t so unlike his mafiosi father and brothers. Has he, in trying to protect Sabina, forced her into the arms of the Prohibition agent bent on tearing her family apart? How can they rebuild what has so long been neglected and do it in the shadow of the dark empire of the Mafia?
Shadowed Loyalty, set amid the glitz and scandal of the Roaring Twenties, examines what love really means and how we draw lines between family and our own convictions, especially when following one could mean losing the other.
This novel taps into an unheard time period in historical fiction. I mean, really, how many historical novels have you read about the Mafia? And she’s not content to leave it at surface level either. She examines all the complexities that made up the real life of Mafia bosses and their families.
Sabina and Lorenzo’s relationship was very different than expected as well. Far from a fairy tale romance, they had to deal with some big problems and miscommunications from the start. Their commitment to working through them, being honest and open with each other from here on out, and being there for each other was a refreshing change in a genre teeming with romances half-baked on feelings. This novel dug into the hard in relationships and camped there a while.
Shadowed Loyalty is an interesting peek into a time mostly forgotten and relationships curiously similar to ours today.
One wild and mysterious ghost town. Two second-chance love stories. And the century-old legacy that binds them together.
Upon arriving in Kenworthy, California, mail-order bride Juniper Cohen is met by the pounding of the gold mine, an untamable landscape, and her greatest surprise of all: the kind and loving man who awaits her. But when the mine proves empty of profit, and when Juniper’s husband, John, vanishes, Juniper is left to fend for herself and her young daughter in the dwindling boomtown that is now her home.
Juniper pens letters to her husband but fears she is waiting on a ghost. Perhaps worse, rumors abound claiming the man she loves could be an outlaw. Surviving in a ghost town requires trusting the kindness of a few remaining souls, including the one who can unlock the mystery of her husband’s disappearance—and Juniper’s survival depends not only upon these friends but also the strength of heart she must fight to maintain.
Present day. Trying to escape the heartache of his failed marriage, Johnny Sutherland throws himself into raising his children and restoring a hundred-year-old abandoned farmhouse in what was once known as Kenworthy, California, in the San Jacinto Mountains. While exploring its secrets he uncovers Juniper’s letters and is moved by the handwritten accounts that bear his name—and as a love story from the past touches his own world, Johnny might discover yet that hope and resilience go hand in hand.
Generally, I’m not into the Wild West gold miner kind of novels. For whatever reasons, my historical fancies prefer urban settings. But so many ladies at our church library, along with students on YWW who would ordinarily never read this book either swore by it that I gave it a try.
It really is a beautiful book. First off, I appreciated that it realistically represented divorce. Divorce is a taboo topic in Christian fiction (unless of course, they get back together in the end). It was nice to see all the emotions that divorce brings represented. We saw how it hurts the person involved. Instead of simply labeling Johnny an adulterer because he was divorced, the author showed how he had to make a hard choice for the good of his family overall. And it was a noble choice.
I felt like Johnny was a good character who broke a lot of the male stereotypes. While he liked the rock climbing and everything, he wasn’t constantly athletic. While he definitely wasn’t intelligent, he wasn’t like the brilliant genius. He struggled with big things and small things, but also was extremely capable. His voice was interesting to read.
As for Juniper’s side of the story, I was pretty sure I knew what was going to happen. The first chapter opens along the same lines of about a dozen other women’s historicals. But then she turns those expectations on their head and takes the story in her own direction. Her journey to forgiveness was real as well—showing that it’s often a jumbled confused mess and it can take a while to get where you need to be.
Sonoma was a good addition to the story. I loved how she represented her heritage and brought a new sort of joy into Johnny’s life. She was a beautiful character who greatly enhanced the story, even as a side character.
I learned a lot about the culture of gold mining towns and ghost towns as well. The world was very well immersed in the history, and it was very intriguing. California doesn’t seem to play a part in a lot of historicals, and the unique setting enriched the story.
Honestly, the only thing I was unhappy with was one scene with Sonoma. And it’s such a little thing. But seriously? Sonoma wasn’t smart enough to tell that it was a pine branch clunking underneath her car like that? Based on how intelligent her character was, I felt like that was really insulting to her and a surprising play into female stereotypes.
I also would have liked to see more of Oliver Conrad in Juniper’s story. He was played up to be really important at the beginning, and I loved that he represented people with speech impediments. But after the first five chapters, he kind of just dropped off the face of the earth and I wondered why we’d had all that set up with him.
The Gold in These Hills is gold of its own kind—a novel that addresses hard topics and emotions realistically and sympathetically, while also shattering stereotypes along the way.
Lives depend on the truth she uncovers.
She can't give up her search.
A birthday excursion turns deadly when the SS Eastland capsizes with Olive Pierce and her best friend on board. Hundreds perish during the accident, and it's only when Olive herself barely escapes that she discovers her friend is among the victims.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Olive returns to her work at a Chicago insurance agency and is immersed in the countless investigations related to the accident. But with so many missing, there are few open-and-shut cases, and she tries to balance her grief with the hard work of finding the truth.
While someone sabotages her progress, Olive accepts the help of newspaper photographer Erik Magnussen. As they unravel secrets, the truths they discover impact those closest to Olive. How long will the disaster haunt her--and how can she help the others find the peace they deserve?
I couldn’t put this book down! I had to keep turning “just a couple more pages” to figure out the answer to all the clues they’d found—but then that answer would open up more questions that I had to keep reading to discover! At some points, it’s pretty mindbending. Who knew insurance agents had such interesting lives?
The theme was very applicable and resonant. Olive’s struggle to find herself outside of what she does, outside of how she helped people reminded me of some situations in my own life and opened my eyes along with hers. Her struggle as a woman in a male-dominated field was also portrayed with sympathy for both sides and without being extreme feminist either.
I had never heard of the Eastland disaster, and the book was very informative without pulling away from the story. Olive didn’t just get over her grief and trauma in the snap of a finger, either. The author took the time to take her on a hard healing journey.
I loved that domestic abuse was given a realistic, but hopeful portrayal. It’s one of those topics that seems to be “off-limits” in Christian fiction, and I appreciated seeing that representation done with care and compassion.
Drawn by the Current does more than draw you in. You are fully immersed and splashing in it.
Lucy Claremont's family treasured the magic of the past, and her childhood fascination with stories of the high seas led her to become a marine archaeologist. But when tragedy strikes, it's Dashel, an American forensic astronomer, and his knowledge of the stars that may help her unearth the truth behind the puzzle she's discovered in her family home.
Two hundred years earlier, the seeds of love are sown between a boy and a girl who spend their days playing in a secret sea cave, while the privileged young son of the estate looks on, wishing to join. As the children grow and war leads to unthinkable heartbreak, a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption unfolds, held secret by the passage of time.
As Lucy and Dash journey to a mysterious old estate on the East Sussex coast, their search leads them to a community of souls and a long-hidden tale that may hold the answers--and the healing--they so desperately seek.
This book explores themes of hope so sweetly and poetically. It’s one of my favorite themes to see popping up in books. The romantic interests really prove their love for each other—they don’t just say it a couple times and kiss several more times and call it good. It also portrays verbal abuse realistically through one of its dual storylines—something sorely lacking in fiction as a whole.
Dash is literally the best. That’s all I have to say.
I’ve decided to include the point of view in the positives, even though it made it hard for me personally to get into the story. I adore first/third person deep point of view so I feel like I’m in a character’s head seeing the world the way they do.
Set the Stars Alight has more of a narrator-feel, like someone from the outside is watching Lucy and Dash and Frederick and Juliette, and telling us very poetically what’s going on. This is a neat addition. It makes us feel like we’re listening to one of Simon’s stories or Killian’s ballads.
But for me, this made it a little tricky for me to get into the character’s head. I didn’t feel like I understood what was driving them to make certain decisions. This isn’t because their motivations weren’t portrayed, I just had a hard time picking up on it because of the format. As a result, it was a little hard for me to get through the book. I also felt like some events were quickly glossed over or I was on the outside looking in for some important events. THIS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE AUTHOR. It was simply my reading style.
It was not as fast-paced as I was expecting. I was expecting more of a treasure hunt type feel. Which it does have. But it's really more about the characters discovering themselves and each other. And you know what, I don't even mind, because the emotional tension in this book is on point.
The climax, however, was what sold me. I would buy this book for the climax alone. (And I had lots of other things I loved about it!) Those scenes where Lucy and Dash are trapped in the cave together—perfection.
Also, look at that cover!!! It's gorgeous.
Set the Stars Alight is a unique book that might not be for everyone. But I think it would be a loss to not give it a read.
The New York Times bestselling author of Redeeming Love and A Voice in the Wind pens a captivating tale of suffering, seeking, and redemption set in Appalachia in the 1850s.
In the misty peaks and valleys of Appalachia roams the sin eater―a myth as much as a man, burdened with absolving the sins of villagers passing from this life to the next. But when a young girl uncovers the dark secret behind the tradition, she vows to show her village the truth.
All that matters for young Cadi Forbes is finding the one man who can set her free from the sin that plagues her, the sin that has stolen her mother’s love from her and made Cadi wish she could flee life and its terrible injustice. But Cadi doesn’t know that the sin eater is seeking as well. Before their journeys are over, Cadi and the sin eater must face themselves, each other, and the One who will demand everything from them in exchange for the answers they seek.
This book doesn’t shy away from the hard. Physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. Shame. Isolation. Murder. Grief and loss. It dives into it all and mostly keeps its head above water (one instance of the opposite stood out to me and I’ll detail it in Negatives). This would be why it made my Best Reads of 2021 list.
I honestly liked Fagan more than Cadi. That boy suffered. He lost the approval of his dad, which is painful enough. But then the fact that his dad beat him and tried to kill him on top of that? Fagan just seemed to sacrifice more than Cadi did for the sake of the story goal, and I wish he’d gotten more page time.
But that’s not to say I didn’t like Cadi! She has a great narration voice and her pain was beautifully, heartbreakingly scrolled across each page. I liked that this book acknowledged that hard and horrible things happen to young people and that they feel the pain just as much as an adult would. And that they are as capable of standing up for a truth they believe in as anyone else.
The arc of how God changed a broken village from something ugly and twisted into something beautiful certainly shines. And even though the novel isn’t all that fast-paced, it kept me engaged to the very last page.
The conclusion with Cadi’s mother didn’t quite work for me. This woman has horrifically abused Cadi for years, to the point that this ten-year-old wished she was dead. And at the end, she was just like, “Oh, I never meant it, I always loved you.” That’s not how it works. In a situation of abuse (which I have researched for a story of my own), there needs to be a gradual building of trust back. It is often not healthy to return to an abuser until a very long time afterward, if at all. A simple apology can’t just erase years of abuse.
The book also makes use of excessively long passages of Scripture in the narrative. Most of the time this is done very well and it helps push the narrative forward. I’m definitely not against putting Bible verses in a story, please don’t hear me saying that. But when it literally spans four pages and the story comes to a complete stand still for someone to quote Scripture for those four pages? That’s a bit much. A Christian book does need to include explicit truths about Jesus. But if it’s going to go anywhere, it needs to be a great story first. If I randomly put four pages of quotes from another book in my novel, and the quotes didn't affect the scene at all, an editor would remove it immediately.
While The Last Sin Eater is marketed as the Gospel to those who wouldn’t hear it another way, it seems to be targeting already converted audiences to remind them of the Gospel. (Someone who isn’t interested in the Gospel isn’t going to read four pages of Scripture inserted into the narrative.) Which is absolutely fine! We need books like that. But the marketing was a little deceptive.
Another aside—I don’t remember reading in the story anywhere what year it was or where they were living. A little disorienting at first.
The Last Sin Eater has a bump or bruise or two along the way. But overall, this is a story that isn’t afraid to acknowledge the harsh realities of broken humans—and watch them grow past them.
I’m so excited to join in the cover reveal for The Blackout Book Club by Amy Lynn Green! This WWII novel, following a group of women involved in the home front war effort in Maine, releases in November. You can read more about it below!
If you've hung around here for a while, you know Amy Lynn Green's debut novel, Things We Didn't Say blew me away and still remains on my favorites list. Her second novel, The Lines Between Us, is one of the best examples of portraying multiple different belief systems equally.
So, as soon as I found out she had a new one coming out November 2022, I was immediately on board.
I mean, The Blackout Book Club. That, ladies and gentlemen, is an incredible title.
Oh, right, I said I'd let you read what it was about.
Plot Description: An impulsive promise to her brother before he goes off to the European Front puts Avis Montgomery in the unlikely position of head librarian in small-town Maine. Though she has never been much of a reader, when wartime needs threaten to close the library, she invents a book club to keep its doors open. The women she convinces to attend the first meeting couldn't be more different--a wealthy spinster determined to aid the war effort, an exhausted mother looking for a fresh start, and a determined young war worker.
At first, the struggles of the home front are all the club members have in common, but over time, the books they choose become more than an escape from the hardships of life and the fear of the U-boat battles that rage just past their shores. As the women face personal challenges and band together in the face of danger, they find they share more in common with each other than they think. But when their growing friendships are tested by secrets of the past and present, they must decide whether depending on each other is worth the cost.
Pre-order Link: (Because I'm sure you want to preorder it now, right?) https://bakerbookhouse.com/products/431778
Now that you have all the lovely details . . . the moment you've all been waiting for . . .
Would you look at that. It reminds me a lot of the cover of Things We Didn't Say in all the best ways.
That's all I have for you today! I hope you'll stay tuned with me for the release of The Blackout Book Club in November 2022!
From the bestselling author of If I Were You comes a nostalgic and endearing holiday story that reminds us that sometimes the most meaningful gifts are the ones we least expect and don’t deserve.
Best friends Audrey Barrett and Eve Dawson are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in postwar America, thrilled at the prospect of starting new traditions with their five-year-old sons. But when the 1951 Sears Christmas Wish Book arrives and the boys start obsessing over every toy in it, Audrey and Eve realize they must first teach them the true significance of the holiday. They begin by helping Bobby and Harry plan gifts of encouragement and service for those in their community, starting by walking an elderly neighbor’s yellow Lab―since a dog topped the boys’ wish list for Santa. In the charming tale that follows, Audrey and Eve are surprised to find their own hearts healing from the tragedies of war and opening to the possibility of forgiveness and new love.
This is a really sweet story. Even though it’s not fast-paced, the story of a mom trying to teach her son that there’s more to Christmas and life resonates with a wide audience. It encouraged me to think of my own neighbors more, and how I could serve them and get to know them. To be willing to “meddle” in healthy ways. To be willing to give.
The way both Audrey and Eve wanted to be independent may have resonated with more deeply, though. Because we all know what it’s like to make a mistake, whether big or small, and feel like we have to pay it back somehow. We all know what it’s like to be treated as if we’re incapable and to want to show others that we have a place in the world.
Plus, the 1950's are just a time that isn't represented a lot in fiction.
This is a sequel to her novel If I Were You. However, nowhere on the book’s covers or title pages will you find this information. (As you can see in the blurb above, which came straight from the book’s back cover.) To get this, you have to read the author note and acknowledgements in the back.
As a result, I was a bit confused as to Eve and Audrey’s references to their backstory for easily two-thirds of the book. It also was hard to keep the characters straight especially at the beginning of the story—Eve and Audrey were both single parents, Bobby and Harry were both boys the same age, they both came from England, and otherwise were very similar. Once the story developed, some differences presented themselves and I was able to keep up.
If I had read If I Were You, I would already have all the character development I needed to actually care about these characters. (Although, to be clear, the author did a good job balancing the backstory with the current story going on.)
However, it wasn’t until three quarters of the way through the book that I saw that author’s note. So now I have a lot of spoilers for If I Were You that I wish I didn’t have.
To sum up, don’t read The Wish Book Christmas before If I Were You.
This is a sweet story with themes that will touch a few strings deep inside—a great year-round Christmas read. Just don’t read it before you read If I Were You.
Hi there! Rachel again. Check out this section for book reviews and cover reveals of some of my favorites!