Published by St. Martin's Press on October 18th 2016
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Donna VanLiere, New York Times bestselling author of the timeless The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Hope, is back with this moving and uplifting story about finding love, hope, and family in unexpected places.
Lauren Gabriel spent many years of her childhood in foster homes, wishing her mother would come back for her and be the family she needs. Now twenty-years-old, she still longs for a place that she can truly call home. Her work as a cashier is unfulfilling, and at Christmas it’s unbearable with the songs and carols and chatter of Christmas that she hears throughout the day.
When Lauren ends her shift one night, she finds herself driving aimlessly in order to avoid returning to her lonely apartment. And when she witnesses a car accident she is suddenly pulled into the small town of Grandon, first as a witness but then as a volunteer for the annual fundraiser for Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who need assistance. Could this town and its people be the home she has always longed for?
¬¬Reviewed by AnnMarie¬¬
The Christmas Town is a stand alone novel by Donna Vanliere. It’s the first book I have read of hers, but I am sure it won’t be my last.
This is the story of Lauren Gabriel. She has spent many years in and out of foster care and at 20 years old she has never felt the true warmth of family. She’s never enjoyed a proper family Christmas. This story is set just before Christmas and starts with Lauren feeling particularly jaded after a long shift in work. Everybody seems to be looking forward to Christmas, but to her it’s just a day where she will feel lonely and sad. She jumps in her car and just drives, she has no destination in mind, she just wants to drive and drive and drive. Anything rather than go back to her sad empty apartment. She soon realises that she needs to fill her gas tank, and when she is preparing to pull into a station she witnesses a car crash, one where thankfully nobody is injured, but the driver that caused the crash drives away. Lauren calls 911 to report what has happened and then checks that the other driver in the crash is OK. She is. But that one incident is the beginning of a whole chain reaction that brings some light into Lauren’s life.
From just that one incident Lauren ends up getting the hit and run driver arrested, but more importantly she becomes friends with the woman he crashed into. From there she ends up being happily roped into helping out at a Christmas fundraiser, and by doing that she is introduced to some more fabulous characters. She is happy for the first time in a long time, but she still dreads spending Christmas alone, and decides to do something that could be considered really insane, and dangerous, but which she goes ahead with anyway. She puts an ad on Craigslist asking for a family for Christmas. One that she could share the day with. She doesn’t want gifts, she’s happy to bring food, she just wants to finally join a happy family Christmas. Does she get replies? You will have to read the book to find out.
This was the ultimate in feel good Christmas stories. The characters are just wonderful, especially a young man, Ben, who brings happiness in the most simplest of ways to the people who shops where he works. There are eccentric old ladies, one of them an English lady who always says the silliest of English things that her American friend teases her about. There’s all the planning for the fund raiser, and watching Lauren take charge of teaching children to sing carols for a singathon. The best thing about this story is that although Lauren doesn’t realise it, all her new friends, and even the children are linked in one very special way. During the whole story as I realised just how linked they all are, I couldn’t wait to read how Lauren would react when she found out.
I loved this story so much and even though it is only October I am definitely in a festive mood because of it. The author has had two of her books adapted into successful films. I would love for this one to be made into one too. It would make perfect Christmas time viewing. But until then I fully recommend this book for the perfect Christmas time reading.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of this book.