Friday, December 19, 2008

Book Look Review "The Christmas Sweater"

Book Look
Debbie Balzotti
“The Christmas Sweater”

This book is #2 on the New York Times fiction list today!

I admit I was a bit confused about what was fictional and what was autobiographical in this new Christmas Novel by Glen Beck. In the author’s forward, he states, “It has taken me more than thirty years to feel comfortable enough to share this story. And while some of the names and events have been changed, what follows is at its core, the story of the most important Christmas of my life.” Then he signed it. So is it a mostly true tale, or a mostly fictional fable? It seems to be a combination of fact and fiction with the intent to focus the reader on a message. In the conclusion Beck gives us a small glimpse into his motivation and clarifies some of the fiction based on fact. This is my dad’s Christmas book this year because he’s a big Glen Beck fan. I hope he enjoys a relaxing evening reading on the couch – while rubbing mom’s feet.

The main character 13 year old Eddie (Glenn Beck) thinks his life stinks. I agree with him. He has reason to be mad at the world and the Creator of it. No child should have to suffer the losses he has. The only problem with his angry attitude is that it isolates him further from the grandparents who dearly love him. He turns toward a neighbor family that has everything he doesn’t. They eat in restaurants, their son has every toy he wants, no rules to obey and to top it all off they drive a nice car. From Eddie’s perspective they are living the good life while he has been denied all of the things that make life happy. Of course he comes to learn that what really counts is the unconditional love of family.

Beck uses an imaginary neighbor as the character to bring redemption to Eddie. In a vivid dream, not unlike Scrooge, he finds the meaning of life before it is too late. There is a definite underlying tone of regret in Eddie’s story. As readers we all share the feeling that our actions have not only caused our own misery, but made those we love unhappy in the past.

Like many Christmas stories written for gift giving in mind, “The Christmas Sweater” is a short novel. I think the publishers believe we don’t have time to read a real book during the holidays. Sometimes the author just doesn’t have enough to say so a novella is the better choice as a vehicle for their message. Glen Beck has an inspirational short story to tell. It is worth an evening reading on the couch while showing love to someone by rubbing their feet. Merry Christmas Dad!

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