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The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle Hardcover – October 28, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

Review

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A Woman's Day Book Club Pick


"The book's simple prose and profound message will fill even the Grinch-iest hearts with Christmas spirit while affirming the age-old adage, it really is the thought that counts." --USA Today

"A funny, knockout-moving new memoir...Read it, share it, pay it forward." --The Good Life

"[A] touching true story." --Women's Day

"A feel-good story guaranteed to move you." --Good Housekeeping

"Inspiring readers throughout the country and around the world this holiday season." --The Dayton Daily News

“THE 13TH GIFT is the kind of Christmas book whose message is much bigger than the holiday. This memoir is written from the heart and for the heart.” --Jason Wright, New York Times bestselling author of Christmas Jars

“I loved The 13th Gift—a truly heartfelt and intelligent book.  Joanne Smith deftly reconciles the difficult terrain that ranges between the Christmas we all want and the tragedies of life that sooner or later beset us all.  Highly recommend it to all, but particularly to those that are dealing with recent losses and don’t’ know how or if they will ever find their way back.” –Greg Kincaid, author of the bestselling Christmas with Tucker and A Christmas Home

"The beautiful story told in The 13th Gift reinforces how the most precious gifts at Christmas are when people give unconditional love and support and it proves how compassion and a kind heart can change lives.  Acts of kindness can create a legacy that lives on from generation to generation." --Laura Schroff, New York Times bestselling author, An Invisible Thread

“If there ever was a roller-coasterish page-turner of a Christmas book, this would be it. As a veteran devourer of Christmas stories short and long, fictional and true, I mistakenly assumed I'd encountered every conceivable plot variant in the genre. Turns out I was dead-wrong. Joanne Hurst Smith's wondrous story hit me from so many directions, playing on the strings of so many emotions, that it left me limp at the end Quite simply, it is a masterpiece.” --Joe L. Wheeler, Ph.D., author of the bestselling Christmas in My Heart® series

"The 13th Gift has a touch of magic in it. It's a lovely story that proves we can recover from any loss, strengthened by the blessings of others. It's a classic for the Christmas season--and all seasons." --Glenn Plaskin, author of Katie Up And Down The Hall: The True Story Of How One Dog Turned Five Neighbors Into A Family

"For readers of Richard Paul Evans and Greg Kincaid comes The 13th Gift, a heartwarming Christmas memoir about how a random act of kindness transformed one of the bleakest moments in a family's history into a time of strength and love." --Book Reporter.com

About the Author

Joanne Huist Smith is a native of Dayton, OH. She earned a bachelor's degree in English at Wright State University and worked as a reporter for the Dayton Daily News. She is the mother of three and grandmother of two.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (October 28, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553418556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553418552
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (384 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jasmyn9 VINE VOICE on October 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Just about everyone has heard of the Secret Santa tradition. One where we get together give gifts anonymously, and throw an office party. But this Secret Santa was something really special and very unique. They reached out to a family falling apart. A family that didnt seem like it was going to survive through the Christmas season without some very serious emotional fallout.

When gifts start showing up at their doorstep (along with cute little verses that I lvoed), the mom is initially quite upset. Upset in a way that I really didn't understand until about half way through the story. These gifts from strangers brought a holiday to her that she was trying desperately to erase from her life. A holiday that brought so many bittersweet memories with it.

Thankfully, her youngest won't let her throw the gifts away, and even manages to make a game of trying to catch Santa in the act. Slowly but surely these gifts - one for each of the 12 days before Christmas - begin to draw the family not only into the holiday spirit, but it brings them back together. For the first time in a long time, they find themselves working on a common project - a who-dun-it (in a good way) type of mystery.

In the end, things are still not normal, but the family has learned to come together to deal with all the things life throws at them. They have also built some amazing memories together that they continue to share through the years. This is what a Christmas story should be all about.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Denvershopgal on October 30, 2014
Format: Audio CD
This true story really resonated within me. I checked out this book from the library yesterday and finished it today. I haven't read a book from cover to cover in less than 24hrs in months. Wow! It made me cry and laugh all at the same time. I'm a full-time single Mom (of two kids) who's had a traumatic injury; our life has forever changed. We've struggled through some really difficult times when we could have used some cheer from someone/anyone, so even just the thought of The 13th Gift gives me goosebumps. As soon as I finished reading this book, I walked into my oldest childs room, gave a quick synopsis of the book and said "we are going to do this for someone every year starting this year". I can't wait to start this tradition. The simple act of giving to others is so wonderful. Please read this book and give 12 days of Christmas to someone who could really benefit from your anonymous "gift". Thank you Joanne for sharing your story. You and your family are truly amazing! I can't wait for Christmas this year!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Maybe it's because I am a widow and in reading this book I kept thinking about how different our first Christmas sans my husband was that I found myself both upset with the author while also wanting to shake her and tell her that ' it isn't just about you, but also the kids'. This is not a book I just sat down and read, and that's probably because being a widow with a child some of the pain was so hard and I needed time to digest each of the chapters.

Alas, as I read and read and got to gift number 8, and found myself trying to connect the simple surprise gifts with the poem/song about the 12 days of Christmas, I found myself with much more empathy for the author. Loved reading of her relatives, co workers, friends who shared their concerns with her, and even smiled when I read how she drove over the tree stand to take out some of her pain. The description of the tree they chose reminded me of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree in so many ways.

What made this book well worth the read, was the children's personalities and how they each viewed the surprise gifts being left on the porch, and how the author does such a wonderful job showing each of their personalities and serious as well as humorous take on life.

Highly recommend this book for a hospice support group library, for pastors, therapists, family and friends of someone who has lost a spouse and has children or does not have children, as well as for your local library.

And consider paying it forward to someone near you. They need not be someone who has lost a spouse, but it could be someone who has a family member who is seriously ill, or someone who is out of work. Even an elderly person who is alone and could use a bit of joy in their life during the holiday season. I even suggest reading a chapter aloud as a family starting in December and then talk about the chapter and lessons learned.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alex S TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It is obvious now, but for some reason I didn't realize when I requested it that this is autobiographical, a story of how one family's life was touched by an anonymous set of gifts. The prelude made clear what I wasn't expecting.

The thing about the gifts is that they weren't expensive, they were just thoughtful reminders that the family wasn't alone. And somehow, it worked. These daily tokens helped the family survive their very first Christmas after losing husband and father. In fact, the gifts were the seeds they needed to grow a new set of memories and to begin to live again instead of safely survive.

And in the retelling of their own story, their is a subtle reminder that this is something all of us can do. After the funeral is over, the grief remains. Families still struggle. Life feels like it may never be the same. Are there subtle little things we can do to reach out to others to give them hope?

I do not know that I will choose this specific method to share hope this Christmas, but I will be encouraged to find personal ways that I can share.
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