Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, and Sarah Sundin
WaterBrook Press (2014)
Reviewed by Tammy Petty Conrad for Reader Views (12/14)
“Where Treetops Glisten” by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, and Sara Sundin, entwines three delightful novellas, each titled after a familiar Christmas carol. What makes these stories enchanting is that they all take place at Christmas time and involve the same family, but occur in different years during World War II. I absolutely love the concept of this work! These established authors have dozens of published novels between them. They had not worked together before, but shared a fascination with the World War II era. They wanted to deliver what their readers already appreciated about their writing, and they worked closely with each other throughout the process. I enjoyed learning about the collaboration process almost as much as I enjoyed reading the stories. Getting an insight into the writers’ process is helpful for anyone who might want to follow in their footsteps.
The first novella, White Christmas, by Cara Putman, opens in Lafayette, Indiana in 1942. Abigail, the main character, lost her love in the Pearl Harbor attack and she has vowed to never love again, a sure sign a love interest will show up shortly! Jackson fills that roll very nicely. The author quickly pulled me into the story. Soon I was riding the bus with the two main characters and ordering cherry Coke at the soda fountain. There is a bit of mystery as Jackson’s family problem is revealed and ultimately solved.
Grandma Louise is a strong character in all three stories and she reminds her family that God is in their midst, despite the family tragedies and the country’s defeats in battle. For some reason, I thought of the mom in Happy Days, the sitcom about the 1950’s, as I was reading this. Grandma Louise was sometimes goofy, but always had something important to say.
The second story, I’ll be Home for Christmas, by Sara Sundin, begins the following year and centers on Abigail’s brother, Pete, who has been a pilot in Europe and is war-weary. He is looking for meaning and purpose in his life and finds it in Linnie, a young girl who wears out every babysitter and teacher she gets! It’s not long before you can imagine a new family unit as Linnie’s mom, Grace, warms up to opening her heart one more time.
The final novella, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, by Tricia Goyer, takes place in the Netherlands in 1944 as the end of war is in sight. Meredith, the third child in the Turner family, is an army nurse braving the mayhem of war. She too has had her heart broken and wants to move on, but as we have learned in the other stories, where there’s a glimmer of hope, love will bloom, even in a make-shift operating room on the warfront.
It’s hard to say which story I enjoyed the most. I read one each day during the week leading up to Christmas. It was cold out and I was off work, so it was easy to snuggle under a cozy, red blanket and read until I was done. It was very satisfying to complete the story in one afternoon, but at the same time, I was able to stay in the family with the next story. It was like one of those incredibly long novels that go on for generations where you feel so devastated when you finally finish it, knowing you’ll never see those people again.
Father Turner also helped with the continuity. He was there to help each of his children in the way they needed it the most as they traversed complicated times. He was supportive and understanding. For some reason, I thought of Rory’s grandfather in Gilmore Girls. I’m really not a TV addict, but his was another character that made a strong impression on me as does Mr. Turner. I would like having either one of them to turn to with a problem I can’t resolve on my own.
All three authors did an excellent job setting the scene and developing their characters. They delivered special Christmas stories set in a time most of us only know from the movies. They created a world I was easily able to slip into. An enjoyable escape, but one where I was reminded of the importance of family and giving my problems to God to handle. And probably most importantly, never giving up on the possibility of another chance to make things right. “Where Treetops Glisten” by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, and Sara Sundin is a wonderful read, during the holidays or any other time of year!