Saturday, December 6, 2008

Review: The Paper Bag Christmas

Summary: Dr. Christopher Ringle is the last person you'd expect to find moonlighting as Santa Claus at the mall on the day after Thanksgiving. But it is there that he meets a young man named Molar Alan, who desperately needs a new perspective on the underlying value of Christmas. Dr. Ringle recruits Mo and his older brother as volunteers at a nearby children's hospital for the holiday season. At the hospital, Mo is tasked to help bring holiday cheer to the young cancer patients on the fifth floor. His biggest challenge is befriending a decidedly angry girl who is so embarrassed by her scarred appearance that she hides her face behind the safety of a paper bag. Almost in spite of himself, Mo finds that Christmas joy emanates from a source far greater than the North Pole, while the young girl learns that she is more beautiful than she had ever imagined. -- Center Street

THE PAPER BAG CHRISTMAS by Kevin Alan Milne was just what I needed to read right now. Every Christmas season, I get so caught up in decorating, buying presents, making cards, baking cookies, wrapping gifts, etc. that I find myself not really appreciating the holidays. I get so overwhelmed with all the "work" that I forget the real reason for Christmas -- I lose perspective of what's important. After finishing THE PAPER BAG CHRISTMAS, I feel more grounded, and I'm so much more hopeful and excited about Christmas.

THE PAPER BAG CHRISTMAS is a beautiful story. The book is extremely touching (I was sobbing like a baby when I read it) but it is also very uplifting in that it that shows how wonderful people can be. The messages in his story are not new, but I feel like I can never hear them too many times. The greatest gifts that we receive are not the material things on our Christmas wishlist, but rather the blessings we experience through our friends.

One reason that I enjoyed this book so much is that it was told through the eyes of a nine year old boy, Molar. I happen to have a nine year old daughter, and I think that nine year olds are at such a terrific age because they are starting to really understand life, while also keeping their innocence. I thought Molar was the ideal character to tell the story of THE PAPER BAG CHRISTMAS, and I loved seeing his learn about the really important things in life. He was so cute, and I really appreciated how sensitive he was to others' feelings.

I read this book in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. I could see where the novel was heading, and I knew it was going to be a tear-jerker; but I also knew that it was going to be a very special story. As I read this novel, I kept thinking that it would make the perfect Christmas movie. I am hoping that next year at this time, I will be able to watch THE PAPER BAG CHRISTMAS with my family.

THE PAPER BAG CHRISTMAS is Kevin Alan Milne's first published novel, and it's just a terrific start to what I'm sure will be a promising career. He has another book coming out this spring, and I'm looking forward to reading that one too. I have to admit that I am a little biased towards Mr. Milne, though, because he has his MBA from Penn State University. My husband and I both have our undergrad business degrees from there, and we are HUGE fans.

I was fortunate enough to be part of a BlogTalk Radio show with Mr. Milne just a few days ago. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Mr. Milne discuss how he fits in writing with his very busy lifestyle (he has five kids and a full-time job.) In addition, I liked learning how he came up with the idea for THE PAPER BAG CHRISTMAS. If you'd like to learn more, you can listen to the radio show. He also has a wonderful website where you can enter a contest to win a copy of his novel; and he also finds time to maintain a blog.

I regret not having read THE PAPERBAG CHRISTMAS earlier because I would love to have recommended it earlier for book clubs. I think it would make a very special holiday discussion book. You can read an excerpt from the first chapter, and there is a reading guide available. Even though it's probably a too late to pick it for your December selection, keep in mind that this book will make a perfect gift for anyone special in your life!


Anonymous said...

Great review, Julie. I knew you'd love this book.

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Terrific review. I loved this one too. It was simply charming.

Anna said...

I'll be reading this book soon. I've heard a lot of good things about it, and I can't wait. It's important to remember why we celebrate Christmas...and I'm due for a good cry. ;)

Diary of an Eccentric

Wanda said...

I am so excited now. I won this book a few weeks ago....and now I am going to go right home and read it.
I've been extra busy....but I think it is a must read FAMILY book now.
I appreciate your post/review.