Saturday, November 28, 2015

Book Review: Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, and Sarah Sundin


Where Treetops Glisten
Tricia Goyer, Cara Putnam, Sarah Sundin
Waterbrook Press
2014
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(Part of the Official Synopsis)

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime

Three siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.  

The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and God’s plan for a future? 

 White Christmas by Cara Putnam
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Official Synopsis

In White Christmas by Cara Putman, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help. 

My Thoughts

The first story in this collection is fairly endearing and follows the life of Abigail Turner, the first of the 3 Turner siblings whose stories are included in this collection. Abigail is a young woman who's had her heart broken by loss and is afraid to love, and then you meet a young man, Jackson Lucas, who's burdened with financial troubles and kind of considers himself unlovable. I appreciated Jackson's depth of compassion for wounded and hurting children, and applauded his efforts at helping Abigail reach out and love others again, regardless of the fears that weigh her down from her past.

The atmosphere of this novella felt reassuringly accurate to the 1940s, and it gave a refreshing glimpse into the limitations and fears of the era. However, I will say that it felt a little too . . . convenient, with a harried rush to the romance (which is always a hazard with novellas). And without much of a climax. Novellas have their limitations, but there still should have been a plot to engage me, and White Christmas is lacking that type of plot. It's simply sweet, and of course, Christmas plays a huge part in the love story.

I'll Be Home for Christmas by Sarah Sundin
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Official Synopsis

Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theatre in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew?

My Thoughts

I've never read any of Sarah Sundin's work before, and honestly, her inclusion in this collection is what first piqued my interest. She didn't let me down.

The morose and emotionless character of Pete Turner snagged my attention right away, especially because I knew that wasn't his real self.  Grace Kessler works desperately hard just to keep food on the table since her husband died leaving her and her little girl, Linnie, in debt. Pete has to learn to let himself feel again, and Grace has to learn to trust again, especially since she and Pete had history from when they were children and he was a bully. Grace must overcome her fear of loving another pilot since her first husband died in the war, and Pete learns that he cannot plug the God-shaped hole in his heart with anyone other than God. 

Truly, this is an inspiring and uplifting story. Irrationality strikes people at the strangest times, leaving chaos and drama in its wake, and that, naturally, happens here. But all ends well, and Christmas is saved. Sarah Sundin incorporated all of the elements of a superior novella, developing an intriguing plot, captivating characters, and a dynamic climax that had me unwilling to put the book down.

Even though I wasn't in love with Cara Putnam's story, the collection is worth tracking down simply because of Sarah Sundin's exquisite novella.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Tricia Goyer
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Official Synopsis

In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

My Thoughts

The third, and youngest, Turner sibling is in the Netherlands, serving as a nurse on the frontlines as the US forces prepares to move into Germany. Tormented by memories of how her true love left her to return to Germany to serve as a Nazi (or so she supposes), Meredith struggles to remain upbeat and positive. Especially when one of the young men in the small village who she spots for only the briefest moment, reminds her of David. Being born on Christmas, being so far away from home, missing her brother Pete's wedding to Grace, all of these weigh heavily upon Meredith's heart, but none so heavy as still loving David and wishing desperately that she didn't.

While I wanted to like Tricia Goyer's story, I really never lost myself in it. Like Cara Putnam's story, there isn't much of a climax, and most of it felt very much the same, with the same emotions and doubts and fears presenting themselves over and over again, and one day looking much like another. The Christmas element actually felt very contrived, and I never could understand Meredith's determination to keep her nickname of Merry a secret. Plus, it was terribly preachy and cliched, and I never like that in my Christian fiction. This one just didn't click with me, but I'm sure it will with others.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the collection is merely average, but Sarah Sundin's story makes it definitely worth the read. And just because I didn't fall wholeheartedly in love with each story doesn't mean others won't, and so I encourage any fan of World War II fiction to give Where Treetops Glisten a try.

http://bookcasesanddaydreams.blogspot.com/2015/11/christmas-fiction-extravaganza.html

Click the above button for a link to the official page of links for this Christmas Fiction Extravaganza!

3 comments:

  1. I will totally read this for Sarah Sundin's story! Alas, library doesn't have it, but I'll keep an eye out for it at the bookstores.

    BTW, I love your festive new blog look!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your library needs me to suggest book purchases to it. *winks* I do that to mine all the time. I'm sure the acquisitions department knows my name by this point. Oops!

      Sarah's story is totally worth the read. Now I really need to read some of her other books!

      And thanks, I love the new look too. It's so very filled with Christmas spirit!

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    2. Yeah, I do that now and then. Used to suggest a lot of things back in WI, and they'd accept them too! Loved that.

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