I looked out my window the other day and everything was covered in snow. Snow. How the hell did it get to be December already? This year flew by so fast. I started this blog on the last day of June and with 10 days left in the year I am proud to say that I have over 1500 views–that’s an average of over 200 views a month. I’ve had a few blogs over the years and have never had this much success with them, so I want to thank you, my readers, for that.
Now, because Christmas is in a few days, I decided to read some Christmas themed books, the first of which is Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber, who is probably the queen of Christmas romances. I’ve read plenty of her Christmas novellas before, but not this one. I have seen the made for television movie based on this book, and I really liked it. Unfortunately, that is not the case with the book. At all. It has everything that I like in a Christmas romance, but it just doesn’t work.
The plot revolves around Holly Larsen, an assistant for a big name designer, and her nephew, Gabe, whose father has been called into service by the military and sent to Afghanistan and because the kid’s mother died when he was little guardianship was given to Holly. She is obviously in over her head as she insists on make very unkid-friendly foods and is surprised when Gabe does not want to eat them. Has she never spent any time with him in the past that she does not know what he likes to eat? It all made me think of that episode of Two and a Half Men when Jake is left in the care of his grandmother, who serves him sushi for dinner. (That kid was so good before he went nuts and found some ultra-conservative religious sect, wasn’t he?)
Holly and Gabe have been struggling for months to acclimate to each other and are finally starting to get somewhere when they take a trip to Finley’s Department Store (so obviously Macy’s–it is even on 34th St.) and Gabe finds the PERFECT toy–a $250 robot called Intellytron–and he just has to have it for Christmas, despite the fact that he knows his aunt cannot afford to spend that much money on a Christmas present. For some reason, Holly decides that the kid is going to get what he wants for Christmas even if it means going without breakfast and skimping on lunch.
This is something that is changed in the movie version. Instead of Finley’s being the only department store to stock the Intellytron, it is the only one not to stock it. There are reasons for this in the movie and I like the reasoning behind this decision. In the book, however, it is decided that despite the economic recession, Finley’s is going to stock the items and market them to children, putting their parents in the position of either doing what Holly does or having to explain to their children why they cannot have what they want for Christmas.
Introduced into Holly and Gabe’s world is Jake Finley, the manager of Finley’s toy department and the son of the store’s owner. He has a depressing back story, involving the death of his mother and little sister, twenty years earlier, and ever since he and his father have not been able to celebrate Christmas (they died on Christmas Eve). I can understand this. I can, and obviously this was supposed to be the big conflict in the story. Holly and Gabe want to celebrate Christmas and Jake doesn’t. The thing is there is no conflict here. Aside from having to ask him to spend Christmas with them twice, he didn’t cause any angst of anxiety. This more than anything is what pissed me off. One minute he is all gung ho over not celebrating and going to the Caribbean with his father and the next he might as well be wearing jingle bells. There is nothing that shows him changing. This should have been the theme–Change Without Provocation–because this happens not once, but three time by the end of the novella with three separate characters.
I think that if the book was a little longer, it would have been a lot better. There would have been room for these characters to grow and change naturally instead of magically. Yes, I get that Mrs. Miracle is magic, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t show these characters mulling over the decision to change.