Every Christmas season, there are books I re-read, which ground me and reinforce in me the meaning of the Christmas season. These books, which I consider classics in the history of my own life--personally and as a writer--bolster my faith and spirit in a holiday that seeks to bring light and joy, comfort and peace. These stories convey a hopeful (however hard-won) prospect in the idea that in this world--that at times seems fallen, lost and irredeemable--glimmers of hope abound.
I've written about Truman Capote's A CHRISTMAS MEMORY, a story about one Christmas season in the acclaimed writer's childhood. And I've shared my thoughts on THE CHRISTMAS TREE by Julie Salamon, a beautiful story about learning to love, share love and finally, learning to let go.
This year, I return to a book that speaks to the brokenness in our world and the challenges faced by one faith-filled man, a 'believer,' who is forced to reconcile his life and faith in a God who disappointed him.
Here is a brief description of Mr. Ives' Christmas, a beautifully rendered, life-affirming novel by the late Oscar Hijuelos :
A beautifully written, tender and passionate story of a man trying to put his life in perspective. In the expert hands of Oscar Hijuelos, Mr. Ives’ Christmas speaks eloquently to the most basic and fulfilling aspects of life for all of us.
Mr. Ives has a successful career in advertising, a wife and two children, and believes he has achieved the typical American dream. But the dream is shattered when his son Robert, who is studying for the priesthood, is killed at Christmas. Overwhelmed by grief and threatened by a loss of faith in humankind, Mr. Ives begins to question the very foundations of his life.
Part love story—of a man for his wife, for his children, for God—and part meditation on how a person can find spiritual peace in the midst of crisis, Mr. Ives’s Christmas "is a magnificently sad and enchanting novel, a celebration, ultimately, of giving and of grace." (Booklist)
Happy Reading...Merry Christmas!
Harper Perennial, $15.99 Paperback, 9780060927547, 248 pages
Publication Date: December 23, 2003
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