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4.0 out of 5 stars
9
4.0 out of 5 stars


TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 26 October 2011
This is a Christian novel, but the synopsis and hype the author has had made it one that I wanted to read and so I decided that I would focus on the tale, not the religion side of it. Only, the religious aspect was central to the tale, and you know what, it did not put me off, nor did it get too goody-goody, but there was a bit when I thought, hmmm. Still, it's a decent read.

The tale starts with Natalie putting off seeing her mum that day, as her in-laws are due and she needs to clean, and her hubby is off doing weekend sports stuff and her teenage daughter is off with friends, and so all falls to her. Except that the in-laws cancel, and instead of going to help her mum, she indulges herself in some painting. Later, she gets a call telling her that her mother has had a bad stroke, and her guilt is monumental.

She not only becomes totally focussed on her guilt, but obsessed with being somehow the cause of her mum's stroke. She pushes her husband away and then immerses herself with work, not being there for him, nor for their daughter, and on top, she stops visiting her mum. Daniel cannot take his no-wife-wife and they end up separating, but their daughter schemes to get them back together again....

Natalie is well-intentioned, but flawed, as is her daughter, but the latter could be forgiven as she's not yet a mature adult. Yes, Natalie is reacting to pain and guilt, but so much so that she pushes away everyone around her, and almost comes across as not even caring in the turns that their combined lives take. But I didn't hate her, as she wasn't evil or nasty, just overwhelmed....basically, she was scared, human and relevantly, the female of the species.

I liked the tale as it had heart; it portrayed real people dealing with real issues, and there were some heartwarming parts to it. Be warned, as there are several upsetting and sad parts dealing with Natalie's mum Belinda, whose active mind was trapped in her paralysed body...and the impact on her husband of 50 years was sad too.

The tale starts 3 weeks after Christmas and ends on Christmas day 49 weeks later, and parts remain unresolved due to the slightly abrupt ending, but it's a worthwhile read. However, perhaps not if you are feeling a bit low, as there is a lot of emotion, heartache, and a bit of not-nasty emotional blackmail. It had warmth, and hope and was in the end the tiniest bit cheesy, but not to the degree that it was unbelievable.

A decent read, but be warned, it is emotional. And, if you are not particularly religious, you might want to ignore the bit at the end when the reader is asked 13 questions relating to the feelings, actions and events in the book, and asked to analyse and comment on what he/she would have done in the characters' places.
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on 29 October 2011
I downloaded this as it was free, There is no need to describe the book as the other reviewer has done that so well, but I had to write how it made me feel, yes it was religious in a non creepy way, and it was definitely relevant to the story so I didn't mind that too much, gets heavier towards the end. But Natalie's selfishness within her grief made me want to throttle her, I felt so angry in parts and sad in others, it sent me on a roller coaster of emotions, the real reason I am writing this review is because hours after reading this book I am still feeling choked up. Maybe it hits your own memories of grief? but it screwed me up pretty good, The writing is good, the story sad but one experienced by so so many families. The way strokes can cripple a family when the matriarch is the one to suffer. I've given it five stars but I didn't love it, it deserved those stars for being able to drag such fierce emotions from a reader, in my case maybe too many and play in my mind for so long after, a sign of a good book.
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on 13 November 2011
This story, which is based around a family torn by the matriarch having had a severe stroke is both touching, and so true......I have been there with my own Mum. I felt the author must too have experienced a stroke within her own family unit, as so many of the emotions written about are REAL. Natalie did seem to be selfish, to over react, and generally cause everyone around her grief....but a stroke somehow does that to you. The only one you seem to be able to be real with, is the person who has had the stroke. I really enjoyed this book, despite the fact that it left me emotionally drained, but at the same time, it made me realize that there are so many families out there suffering this problem. Very well put together.
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on 17 June 2012
I don't normally choose 'Christian' books, but as this was free, I thought I'd give it a try. It certainly isn't the sort of story that would make one turn to Christianity/God!! The main character fell to pieces at a family crisis and far from turning to God, she turned away. I felt she needed a good slap or a course of antidepressants!
It wasn't an easy book to read in so many ways, all due to the character of the mother. I guess that is why the book was written! It is very frustrating, and though the end is pretty easy to guess,it takes the whole book to get to it and then it happens within a couple of pages.
It is a predictable book, not deep and not 'preachy'. The central character is much too shallow for that. It is quite well written and edited. I might read something else by this author -if it is free!
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on 4 January 2012
I chose this book as I thought it would be a good easy read over Christmas but should probably have paid more attention to the prefix "IM" added to "perfect Christmas"!! A story of family upheaval, fracturing of relationships, grief and trauma, it is well written but not particularly cosy.

Set in America, it is a good depiction of suburban American family life. I don't want to give too much away as it will tip you off regarding the ending but I did ultimately enjoy the book. It just wasn't how I had expected it to be. That is more my fault than the authors and will teach me to pay more attention before downloading special offer Kindle books!
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on 31 December 2011
I found this book very good reading and hard to put down as it relates so well to real life situations. It sure touches our emotions reading it so have the tissues handy.
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on 12 February 2013
I really enjoyed this book that had the real meaning of Christmas at the centre. It wasn't sentimental but a really good story. Thank you Myra - look forward to more.
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on 20 July 2013
Very good read from start to finish, I chose this book because like Belinda I love Christmas, I would recommend it to all my friends and family
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on 26 May 2015
Not so brill
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