The 20th Christmas
For many of us, Christmas is the time of light-hearted fun and happy endings in front of cozy fires. However, picturesque scenes are not always our reality. As the book description portrays, The 20th Christmas by Andrea Rodgers isn’t light-hearted, but it delivers a cast of characters worth spending time with, as well as a happy ending. A young child kidnapped just days before Christmas is a mother’s nightmare, and the author conveys the heart-wrenching pain of the days following very well. What I found refreshing is that Rodgers didn’t rush toward her ending. In fact, she let the situation linger, developing the emotional struggle in both parents as they figured out how to continue life without their son.
The author broadened the story, though, giving us insight into the kidnapper, making her more than a monster who stole a child, but a woman in pain. While not excusing her behavior, Rodgers creates a character that I wanted both to throttle and hold tightly at the same time.
Finally, Lydia enters the scene, adding even more depth to the novel. She knows nothing of what has happened and waivers between anger and empathy for her sister and the child with her. This complication added to the book and drew compassion as I related so strongly to Lydia. If a relative showed up on my doorstep with a child, wouldn’t I do whatever I could to protect and provide for the young one?
Although the story works through a multitude of tragedies, difficulties and deep-felt emotions, Rodgers handles each gently without allowing the book to wallow in self-pity or depression. She faithfully fills the pages with hope, even when the characters weren’t confident that anything good would come.
Each of the characters handled grief in different ways, and it was good to see how their faith both challenged and upheld them. I loved that the story continued long enough for Arianna and Lydia to meet and the full story to be revealed to everyone involved. The author took care to include the fresh waves of grief that would naturally come in a situation like this, but also included the hope of a great future waiting for them.
If you like emotional reads or just want to be encouraged that God truly works all things for good for those who love Him, then I recommend The 20th Christmas. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Carrie Daws is an author based in North Carolina. Besides writing, Carrie volunteers within two military ministries. Her latest book is The Warrior's Bride: Biblical Strategies to Help the Military Spouse Thrive. Learn more at carriedaws.com.