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Comfort & Joy    by Kristin Hannah order for
Comfort & Joy
by Kristin Hannah
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

It's been three months since Joy Candellaro's divorce was finalized but she still can't find it in herself to deal with her anger over her betrayal by her sister Stacey and ex-husband Thom. She blames them for her inability to get into the Christmas spirit, in what has always been her favourite time of the year. The last straw comes when Stacey delivers a wedding invitation and announces she's pregnant with Thom's baby. Blinded by rage and denial, Joy drives off and finds herself at the local airport. The only flight available is a charter enroute to Hope, British Columbia. Faith doesn't care; all she wants to do is to put distance between her and those who have caused her so much misery.

Shortly after take-off, the charter crashes in the rugged forests of the North West. All survive the fiery explosion. Joy however, decides to hide from rescuers, convinced that fate has given her the chance for a fresh start. She wanders into a bed and breakfast, where she meets a father and son whose lives are also in a shambles. Eight-year-old Bobby O'Shea, facing his first Christmas without his mother, isn't making the tragic situation any easier for his estranged father. The boy has closed himself off from everyone except his imaginary friends, one of whom he insists is his dead mother. From the moment Joy and Bobby meet, she knows she must set her own troubles aside to help the O'Shea's deal with their pain and re-discover what it means to be loved and be a family.

Kristen Hannah, a veteran of emotionally moving and heartfelt stories, delivers another in Comfort & Joy. Though Joy and Bobby are nicely fleshed out and their problems poignant and believable, Daniel's characterization lacked Hannah's usual depth. Given the story's length (it's a very quick read) and the fact that it's written from Joy's point of view, there really wasn't room to expand on Daniel's character. The resolution also felt a bit too tidy. Even so, this modern day fairytale generally hits all the right notes to bring readers warm moments of comfort and joy, as well as a little bit of holiday magic this Christmas season.

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