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October 14, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten

A review by Spencer

by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, Sarah Sundin

“It’s amazing, don’t you think, that the holiday spirit can be so strong even in the midst of war?”

Where Treetops Glisten is a compilation of three novellas about the Turner family during the Second World War. The book, as well as each novella, is titled after timeless Christmas songs: White Christmas, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The stories are interconnected without a glitch; revealing the tragedies and triumphs the family endures during the early 1940s. The novellas, though intertwined, serve well as stand-alones, each centering on a Turner sibling.

White Christmas, by Cara Putman, takes place in Lafayette, Indiana, on Christmas Eve, 1941. Abigail Turner, a vivacious college student, has a chance meeting with Jackson Lucas, a mysterious young man who rescues her from being hit by a car. An attraction is evident almost instantaneously, but Abigail has vowed to guard her heart, still aching from the loss of her fiancé who died in the war. After getting to know each other, Jackson reveals a legal issue weighs him down. Abigail invites him to speak to her father, a successful lawyer, who may be able to help. This results in a tangle of issues and emotions.

My thoughts on this story of finding the courage to love are mixed. The story is nostalgic, innocent, and charming. Abigail is likable, and Jackson, somewhat dreamy, yet it was difficult for me to become totally immersed in the story. It felt very “vanilla” and needed a little more punch, a little more spice, or a little more…something. This isn’t to say I wasn’t invested in Jackson’s dilemma, or Abigail’s struggle to protect her heart, I was. The feel of this novella is somewhat young, as if it were written more for a teen. That probably has to do with the nostalgic, more simplistic time of the 1940s.

White Christmas is a saccharine sweet story of love and courage.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas, by Sarah Sundin, is multi-layered with hope, faith, forgiveness, and peace. Lieutenant Pete Turner returns to 1943 Indiana, after his combat tour piloting a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane over Nazi-occupied Europe. He’s burdened with the ravages of war and hopes to gain some calm and quiet in his life. When he encounters Linnie, a lost little girl, on the snowy streets of Lafayette, the opposite of calm enters his world. After his search to find Linnie’s mother, Grace Kessler, his heart finds its smile. Grace is much different than he expected, and his burdens become lighter—for a little while, anyway. An unexpected time in the past finds its way back into Pete’s relationship with Grace, and everything gained could soon be lost.

I love this story of finding love! Grace Kessler is intelligent and fervent, and her relationship with her daughter, though wearisome, is incredibly touching. I like that Grace, though a widow struggling to keep things together for her daughter, isn’t portrayed as a weak woman in need of a rescuer. I also like that Pete has his own weaknesses and might need a rescuer of his own. I was totally absorbed in this triangle of a story. Grace, Pete, and little Linnie are complex characters with vibrant personalities. The secondary characters are colorful as well and add to the charm of this Christmastime tale.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas is a captivating, delightful treat that leaves me fully sated.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, by Tricia Goyer, shows that overcoming our fears, and trusting God, will see us through even our darkest hours. It opens during the winter of 1944, in Nieuwenhagen, Netherlands in the frontlines of the war. Meredith (Merry) Turner currently works at a makeshift hospital (formerly a schoolhouse) where she prays for and nurses injured American and German soldiers. Not only is this youngest sibling of the Turner family burdened with the ravages of war, but also the heartbreak from being lied to and abandoned by her former love, a music teacher named David. God works in mysterious ways, but can Merry find peace amidst so many injuries and death?

This story centers on Meredith, the youngest of the Turner siblings, and her search for truth and healing. In my opinion, it’s the most heartrending of the three. Meredith, David, and the secondary characters jump off the page, full of passion, grief, and even joy and tenderness. I became immersed in Meredith’s story—In her range of emotions, her strength, her weaknesses, and her longing for home. This story is a memorable one, and provides a rewarding closure.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas moved me to tears, and brought the trio of novellas full circle.

Overall, Where Treetops Glisten is a fulfilling holiday book, readying me for the approaching Christmas season. I love how the authors were inspired by the Christmas songs of the WWII era, capitalized references to God, and imparted a familiarity of days gone by that gives a wistful, realistic portrayal of life in the 1940s.

Book Bonus (in the back of the book):
          ·      Cookie Exchange: Four Christmas cookie recipes.
          ·      Readers Guide: Questions for book clubs and personal introspection.
          ·      A Chat With Authors: Revealing a behind the scenes of this collaboration.
          ·      About the Authors: Photos, bios, social media pages, and websites.

Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Page Count: 368
Purchase Link: Amazon

Book Rating:

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Disclosure of Material Connection in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: BloggingForBooks has provided me a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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