Most helpful positive review
110 of 118 people found the following review helpful
You won't put this book down till you have finished it.
on October 26, 2011
I will start by saying that this story is written with such emotion, compassion, and true-to-life feeling that you can't help but feel like you are walking in the shoes of the main characters.
The book tells one story through the eyes of two main characters. It begins with the setting of a nursing home on Christmas Eve. The story from the viewpoint of Alzheimer patient Mitch is like watching the surroundings through his eyes, feeling what he feels. He has broken memories of his past, of his wife whom he "loved and loathed." He waits for someone or something, but he doesn't know for whom or what. At one heart-wrenching moment, he holds a glittery paper snowflake and knows that for a while at least, the little girl in his memory loved him. He struggles with bits of memory of ways that he failed his little girl, realizing that "there are sins of omission as surely as there are sins of commission" and ponders whether if he had held her more and worked less, maybe everything would have been different.
This old man's thoughts are things we can take to heart, lessons we can learn while there is still time. This is so genuinely written that it's hard to believe that the person writing it hasn't experienced what it is like to have Alzheimers, though of course that would be impossible. I came away from reading this part with much more compassion for what an impaired memory patient might be going through.
The second viewpoint is told through the story of an abused woman, Rachel, who appears to have the idyllic life. The story is set in a small town and consists of a time period of about two months leading up to Christmas Eve.
Rachel recounts the emotional and verbal abuse doled out by her alcoholic mother. As she puts it "my childhood was the battleground where my mother chose to fight her personal demons." Her father was a loving man who did not intervene, or as her young daughter Lily said "no one stood between you and the monster under your bed." I felt that this was such a profound statement that would touch home with readers who felt helpless and unprotected as children.
Now Rachel is married to an abusive husband. The story is tense and yet hopeful. You are angry for her and then cheer for her strength and bravery. Rachel's life is turned around with the help, love, and strength of several dear friends who do love her and convince her that she is not weak, ugly, unlovable, and worthless as she has been made to believe she is.
Rachel's daughter is mature beyond her 11 years. I felt that perhaps she was made out to be almost a little too mature in her ability to accept the changes taking place in her life and the burden of taking on such a supportive role. Still she is a loving and likeable character, and I loved the advice she gives her mother when she says "God is my shield...you don't have to be."
Because the story is so honest and real, it will be an emotional read for someone who has experienced this type of childhood or has been an emotionally or physically abused spouse. However, I would not let that keep you from reading this book. It is truly inspirational and encouraging to see the transformation that can take place when a person realizes that they are loved and that they are worthwhile. Rachel asked herself if, now that the door to her prison is open, does she have the courage to fly away. She does!