Curl up with cocoa and ‘A Simple Christmas Wish’
Published: Monday, December 9, 2013
Updated: Monday, December 9, 2013 14:12
Award-winning, millions-selling author Melody Carlson has added another Christmas novel to her credits of over 200 books. “A Simple Christmas Wish” follows the journey of a woman, her niece and the strange new world they find themselves connected with following a tragic loss before Christmas.
Rachel Milligan, a somewhat stereotypical, big-city, single woman, is babysitting her 17-year-old niece, Holly, when she receives the news of her brother and sister-in-law’s untimely deaths. Her niece now orphaned, Rachel grapples with funeral arrangements and the responsibility of raising Holly by herself with no other family.
At least that is what they think until the family lawyer informs them that Holly’s mother, Miri’s mysterious sister, is to raise the young girl. Miri’s past having remained a fog for years, Rachel decides to meet with Holly’s aunt Lydia to persuade this newfound relative to leave Holly with her as Rachel has no other family.
As it turns out, Miri was born and raised in an Amish community, which she abandoned for a life of adventure as an airline stewardess, where she met Rachel and later her brother. At first, the immersion into Amish life is hard for Rachel and Holly, as Rachel faces harsh judgment from Lydia, and Holly has to integrate immediately into her new family.
This transition is made better by the help of Holly’s unusual uncle Benjamin, a couple conversations with Miri’s mother, and (predictably enough) a little Christmas spirit. This story has all the makings of a tender Hallmark movie, as its length and lack of any subplots would translate well to a made-for-TV-movie.
All focus in this story is on one thing: Rachel’s determinedness to raise Holly by herself. Sure, Carlson could have explored the backstory of Miri a little more than she did, and maybe even given Rachel’s best friend, Kayla, a few more scenes beyond a late-night discussion about how to tell Holly about her parents’ deaths.
Sticking with Rachel’s efforts to extract Holly from an Amish upbringing is the main aim of this story, and though that seems selfish, it really is not. With as much focus as there is on Rachel, the reader learns a little of her story and how her motivation to raise Holly is not just to avoid a life of loneliness.
Rachel really cares for her niece, as much as she did for her brother Michael and Miri. Her wanting to raise Holly seems to stem from a desire to remain as close to them as possible, not just to clutch and cling at the last relative left to her. Plus, she really wants to play a part in Holly’s life, and by the end of “A Simple Christmas Wish,” Rachel is as happy as Holly with their situation’s outcome.
Carlson’s story is an utterly predictable one, but it holds some surprises. The Amish relation was a shocker, as it seemed to the reader that this book would be about an aunt and niece’s good times together when they find themselves alone in the world. That is partly true, but at its heart, “A Simple Christmas Wish” is merely a feel-good novel under 200 pages that is made best with hot cocoa on an empty afternoon.