Tuesday, December 8, 2009
"The Christmas Jars" by Jason E. Wright
Rating 3.5 out of 5
Where I got the book from: checked out of the local library
Synopsis from Amazon.com:
"In a plot reminiscent of Penelope Stokes's The Blue Bottle Club and Angela Hunt's The Note, a journalist happens upon a human interest story that winds up teaching her lessons about love and forgiveness and renewing her own faith in human kindness. On Christmas Eve, twenty-something Hope Jensen is quietly grieving the recent loss of her adoptive mother when her apartment is robbed. The one bright spot in the midst of Hope's despair is a small jar full of money someone has anonymously left on her doorstep. Eager to learn the source of this unexpected generosity, Hope uses her newswoman instincts to find other recipients of "Christmas jars," digging until her search leads her to the family who first began the tradition of saving a year's worth of spare change to give to someone in need at the holiday. Wright commits some rookie mistakes in style and pacing; the novel veers heavily toward melodrama at some junctures, and he tends to show us and tell us about his characters. Still, the heart of this novella is its transformative message about the power of giving, a compelling theme that calls to mind books like Pay It Forward and The Kingdom Assignment."
While I enjoyed this story and appreciated that it was on the short side (perfect for the busy holiday season!) I thought it had a slow start. The beginning few chapters contained a lot of set up about Hope, the main character. Instead of letting the reader learn about Hope naturally a lot of the details were just given. Perhaps that was a function of it being a short book and the author wanting to get to the heart of the story more quickly. I loved the idea of the Christmas jars, it reminded me a bit of the idea of paying it forward. Helping someone in need anonymously for the good of all started by a small girl who gave away the families Christmas savings to a woman in need. It was so nice to read about people helping others rather than using Christmas as a time to buy tons of gifts.