God Bless Us Every One
By Eva Marie Everson
Abingdon Press, 2016
Charlene Dixon---called Charlie by family and friends---is devastated at the recent loss of her job.
For the last five years, the twenty-seven-year-old has blossomed as the activities director of an exclusive all-girls school. But when a misunderstanding with the headmistress leads to a pink slip right before the holidays, Charlie packs up her dreams and returns to her grandmother, Sis, who raised Charlie as her own in the mountains of North Carolina.
When Charlie arrives---broken and confused---Sis immediately puts her granddaughter to work behind the scenes of the local school's Christmas play, A Christmas Carol. Charlie prickles at working with Dustin Kennedy, the drama teacher and her old crush from schooldays, but is even more put out at that the choice of the Dickens' classic for the holiday performance. When she discovers her estranged father's involvement her world turns on its head once more. But when Sis and Dustin encourage her to take a deeper look at the story behind A Christmas Carol, Charlie learns about trust, faith, and forgiveness and the needs of people in their own community.
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God Bless Us Every One, a novella of around 190 pages, is the perfect way to start enjoying the inspiration of Christmas-themed fiction. It’s a story about family relationships, forgiveness and grace … a story that conveys the relevancy of a classic like A Christmas Carol … and it’s a story about coming home, physically and emotionally. Those who have read Eva’s previous novel, The Road to Testament, will enjoy seeing Ashlynne and William again.
I loved how the contemporary story of Charlie and her dad is linked to that of Charles Dickens and his father. Eva leads into each chapter with a quote from A Christmas Carol and cleverly plays on the names of Charlie Dixon and Charles Dickens – but it’s more than that, because we get to see a little of the classic story’s background. Just like Charlie, Dickens had tumultuous relationship with his father, and he “created Scrooge based on the two personalities he knew of his father: the saint he loved and the demon he despised.”
Lifestyle choices and their results bring depth, making this more than a light, feel-good story. Charles Dickens had a concern for the impoverished, as does Charlie’s father, John Dixon, who directs homeless shelter near to Testament, North Carolina. It was easy to identify with Charlie’s struggle to let go of the past and believe that change was possible. Charlie confronts John about his past at one point and he makes this meaningful reply: “Sometimes, Charlie, you have to get down on the floor to understand what it’s like to be there.”
I enjoyed the growing relationship (and chemistry) between Charlie and Dustin because it was sincere, not filled with conflict and misunderstanding. As is usually the case with novellas, their relationship moved a little quickly at times, but that didn’t bother me because of where the story’s focus was.
Eva Marie Everson is an award-winning speaker and author of The Road to Testament, Things Left Unspoken, This Fine Life, Chasing Sunsets, Waiting for Sunrise, Slow Moon Rising, and The Potluck Club series (with Linda Evans Shepherd). She is the president of Word Weavers International, Inc., a member of AWSA, ACFW, RWA, the director of Florida Christian Writer's Conference, and the contest director for Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's Conference. She and her husband make their home in Casselberry, Florida.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Abingdon Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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