Monday, November 30, 2009

The Unfinished Gift

The Unfinished Gift is set in 1943, a week before Christmas. Patrick’s mother has recently died in a car accident and he is being sent across town to stay with a grandfather he’s never met while the Army tries to locate his father, a bomber pilot in England. Patrick’s father and grandfather haven’t spoken since before Patrick was born. The book explores the surprising things God uses to affect powerful changes in our hearts; like a little boy’s prayers, a shoebox full of love letters, and an old wooden soldier collecting dust in a grandfather’s attic.

My Review: This was a poignant Christmas story where my heart broke for Patrick and I shook my fist in anger at the way his grandfather treated him. The ending didn't surprise me as I knew things would get worked out or it wouldn't be promoted as a book about redemption and forgiveness.

I'm not sure why the author felt it necessary to have Catholic characters in his book especially since he doesn't seem to understand our faith. During a conversation between Shawn and his dad, Shawn feels he didn't learn about Christianity growing up and understands it differently now as if being raised Catholic isn't learning about Christianity. In addition, Shawn's mother writes in a letter "I had never read the Bible in all my life." Unless the woman was illiterate prior to this point, that's near impossible. Every Sunday at Mass, multiple readings from Scripture are proclaimed and the parishioners would have read along in their missal. One positive portrayal of a Catholic was the priest visiting soon after Patrick arrived at his grandfather's home. He was shown to be a compassionate man that wanted to be sure Ian was going to decorate for Christmas so the young boy could celebrate. But I think the author may not have done his research; I don't know about Irish but most Italian Catholics would have waited to decorate until Christmas Eve. Another Catholic character is Mrs Fortini who acts like a grandmother to Patrick but she is depicted as uneducated in her faith - not knowing the difference between a cross and a crucifix.

I did enjoy the book but as a Catholic reviewer, I point out things that may be offensive to other Catholic readers.

The Unfinished Gift

Thank you to Donna Hausler of the Baker Publishing Group for providing me with a complimentary copy of The Unfinished Gift to read and review.

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