Friday, December 21, 2012

Guest Book Review: Christmas Lights

By Allie Smith

The novella, Christmas Lights, by Christine Pisera Naman, is collection of holiday themed vignettes. It is a quick and sweet read that will stir emotions in any reader. It’s also a gentle reminder that the holidays are a time to reaffirm our faith and to reconnect with family. As I read, I found myself counting my blessings and remembering that each of us has our struggles, even at Christmas time.

The book is divided into chapters, each one devoted to a woman and her personal conflict. Each woman is in a different period of life, from teenager to septuagenarian, and they are all interconnected. Although it’s not revealed till the end of this fictional tale, it’s pretty easy to figure out it’s the story of a mother and her six daughters, one Christmas Eve night.

We meet the women individually and get a glimpse into her life at the moment she’s preparing for the family’s Christmas Eve gathering. Each meeting  is brief, but you will undoubtedly feel a connection with at least one of the characters. Many life milestones, good and bad, are covered: caring for a sick spouse, first love, marital issues, loneliness, grief, new motherhood, cancer and infertility. As women, we’ve all felt the feeling of new love, heartbreak, loneliness, grief, fear of illness, and as we age, the joys and sorrows of marriage, motherhood and aging. Universal themes abound in this book.

The thread that is woven through each story, both holding these women literally together as individuals, and to each other, is their faith. They believe in God and look to Him daily for guidance, comfort or to offer gratitude. God has given each of them strength to deal with their individual life’s sorrows. Each of the sisters learned the true power of faith by watching their mother, Katherine, live her life.

At the end of the book, the sisters and their mother come together for Christmas Eve dinner. I loved that each year, before any other family arrived, mother and daughters got an hour alone together to reminisce about what made them happy that year and what they had accomplished. During that hour, we the readers, come to understand how strong their bond is to each other and how deeply they love one another.

My one complaint about the book was that it was all very tidy. All the sister’s prayers were answered conveniently on Christmas Eve. It’s an extraordinarily lovely thought, but sadly, it was too much of a coincidence that all their various prayers were answered on Christmas Eve. Oh, but I wish how that were true in real life! But for the sake of a Christmas story, I was able to put my skepticism aside.

I think this book would make a great Christmas gift, especially for someone who may be suffering with difficulties and would appreciate the message to never lose faith. The reverent prose of the writing is very soothing and comforting. I think the book could offer solace to those who need it at Christmas.

Thanks to Random House and the Albee Agency for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Allie Smith, a former CPA who five years into her career decided that she hated working with numbers and willingly gave it all up to be a stay-at-home mom, lives in suburban Atlanta with her husband and four children. In between carpool, play dates and refereeing the kids, she loves to read and write. The mother of a child with autism, she is currently working on a memoir of their journey.

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