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The Special Guest: A Christmas Story Hardcover – October 1, 1996

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As do several Christmas books this season, this one transports readers to a simpler, better America that never existed. On the last shopping day before Christmas, teenager Scott Reid, bagging groceries at a supermarket, befriends a mysterious stranger and invites him home for the holiday weekend. The curious old man, whose white bushy eyebrows, old fashioned clothes and cherubic disposition immediately endear him to the unbelievably hospitable Reid family, says his name is Zachery and claims to work for a charitable agency. Zachery soon elicits from the Reids a recital of the sad event that has afflicted the family. Exactly one year ago, Scott's younger sister, whom he was teaching to ride her bicycle, was run down by drunk driver Jake Fincastle; she remains in a coma. In short order, Zachery convinces the Reids to commit "an act of forgiveness"?visit Jake in prison and bring good cheer and food to his wife and children. When the Reids' own lives are next blessed by a double miracle, even the most credulous reader will not be surprised. A series of cliches stitched together by coincidences and facile solutions, one-dimensional characterization, predictable props (hot chocolate, a crackling fire) and issues reduced to the lowest common denominator rob the narrative of suspense, much less inspirational magic. Previously self-published by Allen, this sentimental story drips with a syrupy piety. 75,000 first printing; $300,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington; English Language edition (November 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1575661209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1575661209
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,470,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A wonderful short story with a very special message. Even though some of the story line is predictable it still has some twists and turns. This is a good book to share with all family members young and old!
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Format: Audio Cassette
I wish I would have had the chance before Christmas to play these tapes to my religion classes. Contained within the magical story is a powerful and very important message about forgiveness and freeing oneself of bitterness and resentment. George S. Irving has a delightfully booming James-Earl-Jones-style voice that it felt as if Santa, or even God himself, was the storyteller - his inflections and animations were highly effective!

In the tradition of classics such as It's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol, The Special Guest is an outstanding, well-presented story. The characters are unselfishly giving, in stark contrast to the self-centered society most of us live in today. The Law of Reciprocity is wonderfully illustrated: when one reaches out to others, they too will be reached out to. We get out of life what we put into it, and Christmas is the perfect time to remind us of what Christianity and the miracle of Christmas is all about!
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By Nancy on January 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I heard about the book from a relative. I thought the story sounded so meaningful that I wanted to read it but I thought it was a child's book. I was surprised when I got it that it was for adults but I LOVED the story. So touching!
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By A Customer on December 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I teach a class of 5th and 6th graders. This book was brought to my attention by one of my students. I used it as a read aloud to the class. It was a great Christmas story to send them off to their winter vacation. While there were several Christian references and examples, they were not overbearing to distract from the story's use in a public school. The story was predictible, but it has several lessons including forgiveness, giving to others, kindness, etc. It makes for a good famiy/school tradition.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While working at the local market, sixteen-year-old Scott Reid sees an older man sitting outside despite the cold weather. After investigating, Scott learns that the man, Zachery, is stranded because his car has broken down. Scott calls his father, who knows a thing or two about cars but cannot get this one going again. With Christmas nigh, Scott and his father invite Zachery to join them for dinner and then to stay through Christmas.

For the Reids, Christmas is a difficult time. Roughly a year earlier, a drunk driver struck Scott's younger sister, Jenny, who has been in a coma ever since. Jenny is at home, where the family cares for her. Scott is tortured by guilt for failing to protect his sister, though there was nothing he could have done. The family is consumed by rage at the driver, who is in prison. However, on that first night, Zachery suggests that it is time for the Reids to forgive the driver.

The remainder of the novel is rather predictable--and far too rushed. What could have been a truly heartwarming novel is, at least to me, marred by a too-pat ending in which problems disappear too easily, without people having to work to solve them. A similar--and, to me, better--Christmas novel dealing with the same premise is The Christmas Bus.
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