Reviewed by Phee Paradise
One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson
Sometimes when one is burdened by overwhelming guilt, it turns inward, making the person incredibly self-occupied. Natalie, in One Imperfect Christmas, lets this happen to her. When her mother has a stroke, she blames herself. Her guilt and anger overwhelm everything else in her life and she can only think about how she feels. She refuses to accept understanding and compassion from the people who love her, claiming that no one understands her feelings. She pushes away the people who love her most and jeopardizes her marriage and her daughter’s security. She can’t see how she’s hurting them.
The book is one long cry of pain, but it isn’t maudlin, and the road Natalie, Daniel and their daughter, Lissa, travel is a logical one. Genuine emotions take the characters from one bad decision to another, making their estrangement understandable. Natalie and Daniel don’t see how they can ever undo all the hurt they have caused each other, but the reader hopes they will find a way.
Hope lies in the Christmas theme, which Johnson skillfully uses to tie different facets of the story together. Natalie and Lissa beg God for a Christmas miracle, and He surprises them with His love. I hope you’ll read the book to see how His healing is greater than our hurting.
Pros: Strong characters and emotions that move the story forward with a hopeful ending.
Cons: Some of the life transitions are abrupt, leaving the reader wondering how the characters got there.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Making up stories has been second nature to me for as long as I can remember. A select group of trusted friends back at dear old Mission High waited eagerly for the next installment of my "Great American Spy Novel" (think Man from Uncle) and my "All-American Teen Novel" (remember Gidget and Tammy?). I even had a private notebook of angst-ridden poetry a la Rod McKuen.
The dream of writing persisted into adulthood, although it often remained on the back burner while I attended to home and family and several "real" (read paying) jobs along the way. Then in 1983, while recovering from sinus surgery, I came upon one of those magazine ads for the Institute of Children’s Literature. I knew it was time to get serious, and the next thing I knew, I'd enrolled in the “Writing for Children and Teenagers” course.
Within a year or so I sold my first story, which appeared in the Christian publication Alive! for Young Teens. For many years I enjoyed success writing stories and articles for middle-graders and young adults. I even taught for ICL for 9 years.
Then my girls grew up, and there went my live-in inspiration. Time to switch gears. I began my first women's fiction manuscript and started attending Christian writers conferences. Eventually I learned about American Christian Romance Writers (which later became American Christian Fiction Writers) and couldn't wait to get involved. Friends in ACFW led me to RWA and the online inspirational chapter, Faith, Hope & Love.
So here I am today, still on this crazy roller-coaster ride. Still writing. Still hopeful. Writing, I'm learning, is not about the destination, it's about the journey. My current projects are primarily women's fiction and romance . . . novels of hope, love, and encouragement. Novels about real women living out their faith and finding love in the midst of everyday, and sometimes not so everyday, situations.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she's allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves-most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she's one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom.
Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit's end. Nothing he's done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa's adolescent rebellion isn't helping matters. As Daniel's hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.
To read the first chapter of One Imperfect Christmas, click HERE
Watch the trailer:
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Reviewed by Phee Paradise