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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
The story starts out in the present day with Debra Reeves Cunningham telling her story of what happened back in 1957, at the age of 7. Debra saw something back then that she wasn't meant to see. Her father had an overwhelming disability that he was trying so hard to overcome. He was a farmer and a good provider for his family.

Debra is the youngest of 4 children in her family. Her oldest sister, Gail, is 25 and still living at home. Her brother, Carl, 21, is in the Army. She shares a bedroom with her 14 year old sister, Kathy, who is crippled by polio. On this particular night in 1957, Debra wakes up needing to go to the bathroom. There is only one bathroom in their home, downstairs close to her parents bedroom. As she is sneaking to the bathroom, she sees something that she doesn't understand. She returns to bed, pondering what she had seen.
I'm going to stop right here with describing the book...I don't want to give anything away!

This is a short read but it is packed with a wonderful message! I LOVED this book! Diane did an awesome job of developing her characters. Her writing style pulls you in and puts you right there, in the Reeves house in 1957! You will be truly blessed by reading this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
"A Christmas Gift" embodies the feel-good atmosphere of the season that will tug on your heartstrings. Seven year-old Debra Reeves is a precocious young girl who makes a surprising discovery regarding her father. Will that discovery inspire or hinder her father's determination?

The story is set in 1957 in a small town called Finley, Ohio. The Reeves run a farm. Debby is the youngest daughter. There's Kathy who is fourteen, Gail who is in her twenties, and Carl is twenty-one. Debby's parents are in their fifties. They're a hard working couple. The community is small, but supportive of each other.

Debby's family is close. One night when Debbie gets up, she discovers her father is in the kitchen, copying off her reader. She stays hidden, but realizes her father doesn't know how to read.

Debby wants to help her father, but is unsure what to do. After careful consideration, she confides in her sisters, Gail and Kathy. After talking to their mother, she confirms Debby's father can't read.

Debby prays to God. Her heartfelt prayers seem answered when a handsome young teacher comes to town. His name is James. After meeting James, Debby is convinced he's a perfect fit for her family.

Bravely, Debby confronts her father about his inability to read, and encourages him to accept James help. Does Debby's father have the strength and courage to tackle this challenge at this point in his life?

Craver handles this story with a smooth touch and loving caress. "A Christmas Gift" tugs on the reader's heart. There's a veryl strong element of faith and family that shines throughout the novel.

The plot flows organically. The first person narration is well done and Craver captures the voice of a seven-year-old effortlessly, putting the reader right in the scenes next to Debby. Craver's authentic descriptions and dialogue allow the reader to picture Finley, Ohio easily.

The novel's rich characterization is the best part of the story. Debby is warm-hearted, yet a bit mischievous. She's also honest and sincere. Debby's father's determination to overcome a challenge is inspiring, but what I really enjoyed is that the story involves the entire family. I especially liked Gail's story. She has a second change at love, but will she take it? Does Carl possess the conviction to change the course of his life? Will Kathy overcome the handicap of polio?

"A Christmas Gift" is an inspirational fiction. It embodies the hope, faith, love, and joy of the season. An emotional and engaging read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
Sometimes when I read a book written in a child's perspective I'm yanked out of the story because I can't really buy into the voice. It's like what a grownup thinks a child will sound like. Not so with this book. Diane Craver does an amazing job of pulling me back to 1957 and placing me inside a seven year old girl named Debra. I saw what she saw, reasoned the way she did, and felt her emotions -- especially her love for her dad. There were moments in this book where I had to stop, just to give myself a moment to process the emotion Diane stirred in me. Without giving anything away, I'll let you in on one particular moment: Debra's mother tells her about her father's reaction to a poem she wrote. You'll know what I mean when you read it.

Words really can't convey how precious this story is. I plan on giving it as a gift to several of my relatives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2010
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I was looking for a book to give as a Christmas gift and started reading "A Christmas Gift". I wasn't prepared for the journey it took me on. I didn't put it down until I finished it. This book is about a gift and it IS a gift in many different ways. It is a story of life and the power of family love told through the eyes of a seven year old. This story will warm your heart and probably take you to a few places in your own heart you haven't been for a while. I found the gift I was looking for.
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on February 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a heart touching "old feel' story.

This sweet story is told by a 60 year old woman but related from her memories as a seven year old child. Debra is the youngest child of an older mother and father. She has two older sisters, 25 year old Gail and 14 year old Kathy who was stricken with polio when she was 7. Debra also has an older, 21 year old, brother who is away in the army. The year is 1957 and little Debby discovers that her beloved father has a secret. She prays about it and shares it with her siblings, then her mother and finally her father. Her prayer is answered allowing her father to fulfill a life-long dream. His courage encourages her mother to learn a new skill too.

The skill that Debby's father learns allows him to give a very special gift to each of the children that Christmas. It is something they can cherish all their lives and it brought tears to my eyes.

Once or twice I thought...this writing seems so simple. Then I reminded myself that it was being told from the perspective of a child and that was the proper tone. The Epilogue is a wrap up of the grown life of the narrator. The story is well written - really hitting the nature emotions of the child. The characters are real-to-life people in a real-to-life setting. Even the epilogue had me thinking that Debra was the author of the story instead of a fictional character.

This is warm and lovely - a quick read that may be a Christmas story but could be read anytime you want to warm you heart and find courage to try new things even as you "mature" in age. I recommend this as a real to life, uplifting story.
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on July 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
Just in time for Christmas, Diane, gives us a story to warm our heart. This beautifully told story comes from a young girl's perspective. It's a story of a childhood from the past. A memory brought to life each year by a letter written by the father she loved greatly. Debbie is up late one night and doesn't want to wake anyone. She spies her father reading one of her reading books. He is trying to read the word, d-a-u-g-h-t-e-r. This puzzles little Debbie. Her father is bright and successful in every way. He is her hero, but what she doesn't realize is she is his hero. This father has a past of regrets. School was not a priority to his mother and he never learned to read. As Debbie talks to her siblings they realize their daddy has never read them a book. Debbie begins to pray for her father. In this sweet story we see prayer answered and hope come like a new winter snow. Shame is no longer for this father, but he is pressing forward into a future that has no limits as you will see. For Christmas, Justin Reeves writes his children letters sharing with them just how much he loves them and how they inspire him. Although this is a short story, it is filled with a beautiful tale of inspiration and giving. I loved this book. We see a family come together and triumph over obstacles. We see the Lord move through each member of this family in breathtaking ways. This is one to curl up with and find yourself drawn to all that can be when we just reach out to one another.

This book was a gift from Diane Craver.
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on September 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
It's a day for rejoicing when a reader finds a book like "A Christmas Gift." Author Diane Craver has created a book that is so original, written so beautifully, carries such poignancy and renders such an emotionally satisfying experience that I absolutely could not put it down.

Let's talk about the emotional impact first. Ms. Craver puts you in the mind and heart of Debby, the little seven-year old girl from whose point of view this story is told. Yet, we as adult readers feel the struggle of her daddy, too, who has a secret. When Debby sets out to give her daddy a special Christmas gift, the emotional impact is heartwarming and unforgettable, and speaks volumes about the true meaning of love.

Now, for Ms. Craver's talent as an author let's talk about her technical skills: her dialogue is authentic, her pacing is flawless, her use of language is masterful and her execution of this beautiful, but difficult, subject matter is sensitive and realistic.

I honestly loved this book, and personally would even go as far to say it had a very inspirational dimension to it, and could be read almost as a parable. The beauty of this book is that it could mean so much to so many, being interpreted so many ways, yet retain its presence and individuality. This is story-telling at its finest! Great job and a joy to read!
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on December 15, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This story is told by a seven-year old girl who's faith is strong enough to comfort her whole family and positively affect many other people for years to come.

The book begins in 1957 when Debra Reeves discovers her father cannot read. He is trying to teach himself, because he is embarrassed to ask for help. Being seven, Debra decides the only solution is to pray for her father. God's answer to Debra's prayer solves more than one problem. Debra learns she is loved, the teacher sent to help is released from a life of grieving and Debra's sister finds happiness.

I have to warn you I cried more than once while reading this rather short book. Of course I laughed some too. All good books affect me this way.

A prologue sets the scene and adds a depth of reality that might not be possible without it. The epilogue lets the reader know what happens to all the characters for the next fifty-three years. It was a real delight to read that part. At first I wondered how the author was able to stop where she did with all that backstory available, but it worked perfectly the way it was written.

Despite the title, this is not one of those stories that only makes sense during the Christmas season. This is one you'll enjoy all year long.
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Format: Paperback
Debby Reeves sees something she isn't suppose to. What did her dad shove into the cabinet drawer beneath the kitchen towels? When Debby finds out, she is puzzled. Should she tell her sisters...her mother? Can she solve the shameful secret her father is trying to conceal?

I love the way Diane Craver has captured this little girl's personality. She knows how to get inside the head of a seven-year-old and make her bigger than life. Debby Reeves is saucy, smart, courageous, and loves her family. She is on a mission and will not give up. The little girl reminds me of "Anne" in "Anne of Green Gables." She always has an answer for everything. I laughed out loud in several places, especially at little Debby's thoughts about her selfish paternal grandmother.

Ms. Craver has a gift for pulling the reader into the family scenes. I felt like I knew Debby and her entire family before long. I rooted for all of them, each with their own diverse personalities.

"A Christmas Gift" would make a wonderful Christmas gift to anyone who enjoys a heartwarming story of courage, persistence, and loves close-knit, realistic family scenes.

I highly recommend this book and look forward to more by this author.
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on December 4, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I enjoyed visiting with Debby Reeves and her family on their farm in Findlay, Ohio. Diane Craver has chosen a first person narrative style to write about what happened to her 'family', and especially to her father, Justin, the Christmas she was seven years old. The family is made up of many characters - Justin,Debby,Carl, Gail, Kathy, Grandma Fogle and Aunt Louise and Lucille as well as newcomer James. Most of these characters have histories that will touch the reader in the same way that our own family stories pluck at our heart strings. It's almost like receiving daily letters from Diane, or phoning up to get the latest - the latest in 1957, that is. Thank you, Ms. Craver, for an uplifting reality story about courageous folks who take on the challenges of living with fortitude and vitality. Thanks, also, for writing this book that records the Fifties way back when I was a little girl of seven, too. Because of your endearing narration, it's all coming back to me. How well I remember it, and how sweet it was!
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