Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: A Christmas Gift for Rose

Inspired by a true story, A Christmas Gift for Rose is a heartwarming novella of sacrifice and deep love. This is Tricia Goyer's very first Christmas novella - and while novellas tend to be light, easy reads, this goes a lot deeper than normal with its characterization and plot. This is a very enjoyable and moving read.


Born in the midst of the hardships of The Great Depression, Rose grew up in Berlin, Ohio, in the arms of a loving Amish family. But as she prepares to marry, she’s thrown into confusion when she learns the truth of her birth. She was born Englisch and abandoned when the family moved on in search of work.

Was she meant to be Amish or would she have been better off growing up with her own kind---Englischers? And was her intended's gift of discovering her birth family given out of love or fear?

 "Flowers remind us of a God
who creates beautiful things and
takes notice of the tiniest detail."

My thoughts

I was expecting a light, heartwarming Christmas read, but found so much more. Tricia writes in an easily flowing style as she explores themes of Amish pacifism and a family's struggle during the Depression years.

The story opens in November of 1945, with Rose having broken off her relationship with Jonathan over his decision to serve as an Army medic. For in Rose's mind, as well as many in their community, "to join the military was to turn one's back on being Amish." And to further complicate matters, Rose discovers she had not been born into the Amish family that she grew up in and loved.

According to Amish teaching, Jonathan should have had no part in supporting the war, yet he could not wait at home and do nothing. Reflecting on the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jonathan asks, "Should we place our religion above the care of others?"

I can understand how parents who had lost a son in the war would resent an Amish man sitting in jail or growing crops rather than serving his country. But on the other hand, some Amish men, like Jonathan, found a way to serve without having to fire a weapon. For the Amish to criticize Jonathan seems awfully legalistic. I was also frustrated with Rose at first because she let people's negative opinions influence her attitudes and actions, but then I realized how difficult it is for any of us to withstand negativity.
"Sometimes the hardest war was the one
unknown to others, fought in one's own soul."

Rose's neighbor, Harold, was a sympathetic character who I loved. Harold returned from the war with what would be diagnosed as post-traumatic stress syndrome today, and both Jonathan and Rose reached out to him with sensitivity. I wish we could follow Harold's story beyond the pages of this story.

Tricia brought in an Amish Thanksgiving ritual that I thought was very meaningful - the morning being a time of fasting and reflection before the family celebration begins. I would like to personally draw from this in some way.

With spiritual themes beautifully woven throughout, A Christmas Gift for Rose comes to a heartwarming and emotional conclusion on Christmas Day.  This story would make great reading during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season, or at any time of the year.

Tricia Goyer

From the Author's Note at the end . . .

       "In 2011 my friend Twyla and I visited Pennsylvania and Ohio, touring the beautiful Amish communities along the way. One night we had dinner with three Amish couples. We asked about their lives and their faith. They asked about ours. We laughed and shared. It was a rich time indeed. I was full - both from the buffet of food and the conversations.
       "And then, in parting, I heard a story that piqued my interest. It was about the grandmother of one of the men. During the Depression his grandmother (a child at the time) often found friendship - and food - at the house of her Amish neighbors. And then one day she returned hom after a day of play to find her Englisch family gone. They'd left her - not because of displeasure, but because they wanted her to have a life they couldn't give.
       "From that story this one was born. History is worth delving into. I was blessed to be able to do so!"

To find out more about Tricia, visit

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Zondervan in exchange for my honest review.

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