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The Gift of Christmas Present    by Melody Carlson order for
Gift of Christmas Present
by Melody Carlson
Order:  USA  Can
Revell, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Christine Bradley recently discovered that she was adopted at birth - after her mother's death, Christine's father revealed the news. Her birth mother had died shortly after Christine was born, and her parents could never find the extended family. Right before the start of the Christmas holidays, Christine locates her biological grandmother and decides to meet her.

When Christine arrives at the door, nothing is as she expected. Her grandmother, Esther Daniels, has a broken foot and mistakes Christine for an applicant to be her housekeeper. As she has no college classes for the next few weeks, Christine takes the job, intending to tell Esther her true identity before much more time passes. The two women form a tentative friendship. Christine breaks through Esther's cranky personality to find the kind-hearted person inside, and Esther reaches out and fills a long-empty place in Christine's life. Will Christine ever tell Esther the truth? Will the shock ruin their Christmas?

This is a sweet holiday tale filled with hope. I was instantly endeared to Christine, understanding her hope for an extended family and her hesitation to tell them the truth after finding herself in their company under somewhat false pretenses. Esther has had a difficult life - her daughter disappeared one day after a disagreement about whether or not she should have an abortion and Esther never heard from her again. Yet she still holds out hope for a reunion. Although Christine has sad news to tell the family, she also has the gift of herself to give.

There are darker moments, such as the discovery of the identity of Christine's birth father. Overall, a solid faith message prevails no matter how hopeless the situation seems. The characters are realistic - flawed but trying to do the right thing. The pace moves quickly and I was never frustrated that Christine was keeping her secret too long. The timing of the revelation is just right. Readers in search of an uplifting holiday story will enjoy The Gift of Christmas Present.

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