"My life is the same." Always the same...
Synthesizing this one is the existential condition in which the main protagonist of the latest Christmas novel by Donna VanLiere is living in.
The Christmas Town will be released published by St.Martin's Press on Oct 18th.
Lauren Gabriel, the protagonist (who knows if the last name Gabriel chosen by the author in honor of the archangel Gabriel?) is a cashier in a store.
She is just 20 but her life has known a lot of sufferance during all her still brief life. Very disgraceful parents without any kind of responsibility or maturity abandoned her de fact but also emotively. Later many foster homes, many other people but no one she could called: family. Lauren hasn't never been in grade to call a place "My house" and people living there, "My family."
Lauren has never, never been surrounded by a real family.
The most horrible moment of the year for Lauren is the Christmas Time.
It should be a time of joy, happiness, a moment for staying together, putting up the decoration on the Christmas Trees, singing carols during Christmas Day, choosing presents for relatives and friends the days before Christmas, baking gingerbread cookies, but she doesn't know these feelings.
She hasn't never proved these emotions.
She hasn't never been happy.
But a family...
Someone who love you, someone who think that you are important and treasure your life. There is no price for a dream like this one thinks Lauren.
Lauren in a moment of discomfort but also of great lucidity posts on Facebook her most profound and at the same time hidden dream: spending the Christmas Day in a real family as if that family would be her own family. After all why not?
A family would be the best Christmas gift to her.
She receives just ironic, sarcastic and disenchanted replies so she deletes the post.
She posts on Craiglist and there, someone is truly interested to give her a chance for spending a Happy Christmas Day with a good family.
At the same time a car accident where Lauren is the most important ocular witnesses bring her back to Grandon a place at a hour of distance from her town. The attorney of the woman involved in the car accident needs her help. The man of the truck must be recognized.
That man changed hair cut but not face and Lauren will give clear indications, recognizing without any doubts the responsible of the car accident.
She seems to be born for staying at Grandon, Lauren. She starts to make friendship with the lady involved in the car accident, Stacy and with her she spends some time at Betty's Bakery, where she can finds this world and the other in terms of pastry but also that human warm so necessary to her for going on. And special people, of course.
Other ladies in fact, while they are still chatting stop by Betty's Bakery as well. They are organizing a fundraising for Glory’s Place, dedicated at single mothers and families in need but they don't know how to do that, and Lauren asks to them if they have thought at a sing-a-thon.
Launched the idea the ladies, they don't know Lauren doesn't live in their town, ask her if she wants to be involved as a volunteer. She says yes.
In this town for miss "My life is the same" the re-born.
Optimism at first thanks to Ben a magical young man, with some difficulties. Employed in a store where Lauren stops by he loves to put in every shopper bag a special blessing for everyone.
At the end it pays a lot, because people feel that they are special.
Ben writes these messages personally.
People receive encouragements. They love to be cuddle with these special random blessings. Lauren is not an exception. She starts to think these blessings are real balsam for her soul.
Lauren Gabriel will discover a lot of things about her family while she is in this new town. She will discover that sometimes is no possible to recuperate people lost forever but, most important, she will learn that these wonderful bunch of new people entered for case in her life are becoming important. Lauren doesn't imagine it, but when she will suffer a personal turmoil she will be missed by everyone, because she will also start to make a difference in their life.
What is life without love? What is life without friendship, help, compassion and human understanding?
As always the writing-style of Donna is captivating. She will create a lot of situations plenty of dialogues that will keep the reader interested and curious without forgetting her profound sense of Christianity, one of the best treats of her books.
Another jewel for your Christmas season or a great gift for sending a special message to a friend or someone you love and for let him/she know that she/he is part of your family.
I thank NetGalley and St.Martin's Press for this copy of The Christmas Town.
Anna Maria Polidori