Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Ambassador International provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
Faith is keeping your trust in the Lord, even when life doesn’t make sense.
I feel like The 20th Christmas delivers on what its great cover conveys: clear brokenness, but a sense of beauty, nonetheless. Even with its heavy subject matter, the abduction of Arianna and Alan Tate’s little boy, this novel manages to be Christmassy in a sober but warm way, not too dark.
Author Andrea Rodgers effectively reveals the mixed feelings and reactions of the characters on different sides of this tragedy–the fear, guilt, confusion, helplessness, anger, depression, doubt, and even Arianna’s and Alan’s different attitudes about responding when people ask if they have any kids. For a shorter novel, Rodgers still does a good job of making her supporting characters’ stories engaging; Lydia and Lacey’s story is weaved in well, and Christopher’s account to Alan hit me in the pit of my stomach, as I’m sure it was meant to.
There are some aspects of the novel that don’t seem realistic, like the idea that until Alan’s family misfortune when he’s in college, “nothing bad had ever happened to him,” and before the kidnapping of Alan and Arianna’s son Chase, Alan had “never done or said anything that hurt [Arianna's] feelings,” though they’ve been together for years. Also, as both of Chase’s parents have been quite involved in raising him, and Chase’s first word was “Daddy,” it would seem that after his abduction, when he takes to asking for his “Mama,” he would ask for or at least mention his daddy at some point as well.
On another note, while the issue of Arianna’s understandable feelings of hatred toward Chase’s kidnapper is raised, it seems like this serious heart issue is more or less smoothed over but not really dealt with.
Yet, the tie-in with an important aspect of the age-old Christ-mas story is powerful, and Rodgers’s novel ultimately illustrates how God’s good purpose can be realized even in the midst of life events that don’t make sense. I wholeheartedly recommend this moving Christmas read.