This Christmas novella about the Christiansen family carries an emotional punch for which I was not prepared.
We've followed the lives of the Christiansen siblings in the previous novels about the family. They have all left home and now their mother, Ingrid, is not looking forward to a Christmas without them. John senses something in his wife that needs fixing. He's got just the thing to renew the romantic fire between the two of them that has cooled. He's planned a surprise Christmas trip to Europe and a renewal of their vows in Paris.
But life interferes when Ingrid agrees to take in her teen nephew while her sister is in treatment. And then their beloved family dog, Ingrid's last emotional link to her children's happy childhood, needs an expensive operation. And to top it off, Ingrid had long ago agreed to organize their church's living nativity.
This is definitely a different focus on the Christiansen family, on the parents. I had trouble liking John, the father and husband who thinks he can fix whatever needs fixing. When he can't fix it, he comes across as harsh. That was a bit surprising for me and I didn't like it. In the end, he had to learn that sometimes it is only God who can fix it. Often His fix doesn't look at all like what we had planned.
I sympathized with Romeo, the sweet nephew so misunderstood by John. It irritated me that John could hurt Romeo so deeply, doing what he thought was the right thing. What an arrogant man, thinking he knew how to run other people's lives.
I sympathized with Ingrid, trying so hard to be the wife and mother she knows she should be when her heart is grieving. Her daughter-in-law's troubled pregnancy brought back the emotions of Ingrid's own loss and the hurt deepened. I was amazed at the love she showed John, even when he did not deserve it.
Evergreen ended up being a very rewarding novella. It showed so dramatically that God works out all things for good, even though the path to that end can be very troubled. I recommend it.
Susan May Warren is a bestselling Christy, Carol and RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels. She served with her husband and their children as missionaries in Russia for eight years. She now writes full time as her husband runs a resort on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota. You can find out more about her and her books at www.susanmaywarren.com.
Tyndale House Publishers, 208 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.