In the little town of Grandon, Jennifer De Luca and Ryan Mazyck are both single parents, each facing their own challenges. Jennifer's husband passed away three years ago, and although she still feels the loss keenly, she's begun to make peace with it. However, her six-year-old daughter, Avery, hasn't. Ryan is a divorcée who lived through his wife's painful betrayal and is now raising his own daughter who's the same age as Avery. He's come to town to visit with his aunt while carefully weighing the choice between two new job options, one that would keep him in Grandon and one that would take him further away.
Sixteen-year-old Kaylee finds herself pregnant and abandoned by her baby's father, a situation that's affecting her entire family as they prepare for a move. As she struggles to figure out the right thing to do, she chances to meet Lily and her husband, Stephen, who are happily married and more than ready to start a family but have been unable to conceive.
These five very different people find their lives magically intertwined as each do their part in putting on, quite possibly, the most unconventional church Nativity play Grandon has ever seen, and in the process, they experience all the joy, love and hope of the Christmas season.
The Christmas Light is another heartwarming, holiday read from Donna VanLiere in her Christmas Hope series. Once again, we get to visit with some of the residents of the little town of Grandon, where everyone pulls together to help their neighbors and where the residents know how to spread the spirit of Christmas. While most of the previous books in the series followed perhaps two or three major characters with the other townspeople in supporting roles, this book has more of an ensemble cast. The stories of several characters are interwoven together, surrounding preparations for the upcoming Nativity pageant put on by a local church. Because there are so many characters, we don't get to know them on quite as deep of a level as some of the past characters in the series, but they're all still likable people who I'd love to have as neighbors.
First, we have Jennifer and her daughter, Avery. Jen is still working through the loss of her husband three and a half years earlier, while Avery has never truly made peace with her father's death. These two seem to be walking through life in a blur, putting one foot in front of the other, but not really living until they finally find that "magical" breakthrough each of them needs to put the past to rest. Enter Ryan and his daughter, Sophia, who is the same age as Avery. Ryan is the nephew of Gloria Wilson, and he went through a painful divorce after his wife left him. He and Sophia are getting along fine now, and he comes to town, checking into a new job opportunity. However, he's trying to choose between the job that is close to his aunt and another one that is four hours away. There's a touch of romance between Ryan and Jen and a serendipitous connection that helps Jen in her quest for peace.
Then, there's Kaylee, a pregnant, unwed teen, whose parent's are planning on moving soon. She worries about what the future holds for her and her child. She meets Lily, a social worker, who's the now-grown daughter of Robert Layton (The Christmas Shoes), and her husband, Stephen. They're a sweet couple who desperately want a child of their own, but haven't been able to have one. A little divine nudge and a Christmas Eve surprise brings them all the peace they've been searching for.
Finally, the glue that holds this bunch together are best friends, Gloria and Miriam (The Christmas Promise). After the director of the upcoming Nativity pageant unexpectedly steps down, they're tasked with putting on the play. It's a humorous, raucous affair that nearly gives perfectionist Miriam an aneurysm. But in the end, it's a blessing to all.
One reason I knocked off the half-star was because The Christmas Light was more predictable than some of the others in the series, so perhaps not quite as engaging to me. The other is that the author wrote the entire book in third-person, present-tense, which is a very unusual style choice. I believe this is the first book I've read that was written in this style, which made it a little more difficult for me to get into. I checked and it appears that all the previous books were written in either first-person or third-person, past-tense. Either these, or first-person, present-tense, are much more common writing styles, so it makes me wonder why the author chose to write it this way, when it's inconsistent with her other books. Overall, it wasn't too bad, though, and as usual, the story was sweet and heartfelt, with a little inspiration on the side. The Christmas Light was the perfect compliment to this holiday season. I always enjoy my imaginary trips to Grandon and look forward to going back with the next book of the series, The Christmas Town.
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