5 Stars Out Of 5
Inspirational and heartwarming Christmas collection
December 18, 2014
Very often a novella collection just seems to hit the spot, and there's something special about a Christmas collection. Where Treetops Glisten is a seamless collaboration by three talented writers who just happen to know quite a bit about World War II - Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, and Sarah Sundin. With its family emphasis, spiritual insights, World War II theme, romance, and the clever use of beloved Christmas carols that debuted during the era, this collection stands out among other Christmas stories. While the authors' writing flows together effortlessly, I liked that I could recognize each one's unique voice. These entertaining and uplifting stories couldn't be more perfect for the Christmas season!
Spanning three Decembers from 1942 to 1944, Where Treetops Glisten centers on the Turner siblings and their experiences during the war. Characters are richly drawn, the romances are heartwarming, and the realities of war are not downplayed. Whether set at home in Lafayette, Indiana or on the front in the Netherlands, the characterization and historical detail makes each story feel real. The contrast in mood also worked extremely well, making the overall collection very appealing. I enjoyed each story and wouldn't want to pick a favorite, for they felt like three parts of a whole.
In Cara Putman's White Christmas, 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.
It was in Cara's story that I first connected with and fell in love with the Turners, a family who had known deep grief, but still believed in God's providence during tumultuous times. The wise grandmother, Louise, gives the stories cohesion, but Mr. Turner is a strong character in White Christmas and the mutual love and respect between he and Abigail was moving.
Abigail's sensitivity made her so easy to connect with - a college student who "felt overlooked in between a fighter pilot and soon-to-be nursing sensation." Cara's story brings out how God places people in our path when needed, and I thought Grandma's words to Abigail especially meaningful: "No tears are wasted, unless you allow their cause to freeze you in place."
Abigail's brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater 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?
Sarah's story focuses on a war hero returning home with memories he can't forget, a man who had retreated into "numbness, hard work, and solitude." There's good character depth as we see the contrast between Pete's old life and the person he had become in Christ. And Grace's daughter, Linnie, will steal readers' hearts!
Sarah's story contains another voice of wisdom that I appreciated, and that's Pastor Hughes. I think his advice - not to try to be as good as someone else, but to be the best we can be - speaks to all of us from time to time. And his words to Pete offer godly wisdom when we just can't seem to move forward: "When you're empty inside, the best thing you can do is give. Find a need, step outside of yourself, and give."
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.
Tricia's moving story takes us to the frontline, in a field hospital in the Dutch village of Nieuwenhagen, and enables the reader to feel the horror of war. Merry, who wanted to leave the small town of Lafayette behind, comes to realize that she is here by God's design - and there's a romantic twist that readers will love.
Daaf, who worked at great risk "to save the lives of the defenseless and helpless," is a character I greatly admired. The words of his uncle are speak to us all: "Remember that there are times when your life must take a backseat to the needs of many. . . . Remember that there are some things worth fighting for."
Where Treetops Glisten is one of my favorite Christmas reads and I highly recommend it to all readers.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.