Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Christmas Note by Donna Van Liere

Title: The Christmas Note
Author: Donna VanLiere
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Published: October 2011
Pages: 224pgs
Format: Hardback

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Gretchen Daniels has recently moved into a condo with her two children to be closer to her mother, Miriam. As they build a life together in their new community, they notice a mysterious young woman, Melissa McCreary, who lives next door. She has few possessions, little personality, and keeps to herself. One day a local landlord who is looking for Melissa knocks on Gretchen’s door for assistance. Melissa’s mother has died and in the coming weeks the landlord needs Melissa to empty her mother’s apartment. Gretchen reaches out and offers to help Melissa, but the apartment is a gut-wrenching shamble of a home. There is little worth saving except for a few photos and a note that is discovered on the crate beside the bed. It is unfinished, but in the two scribbled lines, Melissa discovers secrets about her family that she never could have imagined. Can two very different women embark on a journey that explores a long-buried need for forgiveness, hope, and redemption?

This was such a sweet story! When Gretchen moves into a new townhouse to be closer to her mother, after her husband’s tragic accident, she is unimpressed with her anti-social, stoic neighbor, Melissa. Trying to be the good person she knows her husband would want her to be, Gretchen reaches out to her surely neighbor when Melissa is faced with cleaning out her alcoholic mother’s apartment after she passes away. Melissa isn’t left with anything other than her horrible childhood memories of her mother and an unfinished note that shifts Melissa’s entire world.

The Christmas Note is one of those warm and fuzzy stories that starts off kind of dark but leaves you smiling and uplifted in the end. The relationship Gretchen and Melissa forms helps both women grow and lean on each other. They both learn about forgiveness and family, while forging a new friendship that may turn out to be the most important of their lives.

While being a heart-warming Christmas book, the writing is not lacking in depth. The more I read, the more I learned about Gretchen and Melissa. Even though I started off thinking this was going to be a typical Christmas story, I found myself not wanting to put it down for even a minute. I desperately wanted to know how things were going to play out.

Donna VanLiere does a wonderful job creating a place that you can relate to and characters that you want to read about. She’s also paced the book very well in that you are constantly learning new things about the main characters that keep you interested in reading about their lives.   
This was a great book to get me into the Christmas spirit! I look forward to reading more of Donna VanLiere’s Christmas Hope series!