Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sunday Salon: Reading and Watching The House Without a Christmas Tree

The House Without a Christmas Tree. Gail Rock. 1974. 84 pages.

 It had been years since I first read this one. This is a reflective book about a memorable-though-slightly-tricky Christmas. The narrator is reflecting on the Christmas of 1946. Readers meet a young girl who lives with her father and grandmother. Her father doesn't exactly know how to show love, affection, or concern for his growing-up daughter. In fact, he fails to see her as a human being, as the grandmother bravely points out in a tense scene. The child has no memories of her mother--who died the year she was born--and she's struggling to find her place in the home. She loves her father, but, she rarely feels approved of by her father. Every day no matter how hard she tries to please him, to interact with him, he puts her aside and/or criticizes her. Perhaps readers aren't told this is a year-round occurrence, perhaps it is jumping to conclusions, for maybe he is just crankier around Christmas, but, regardless he is a difficult person to love. In this one, the little girl wants a Christmas tree but is refused. It's not a matter of money--merely preference. The little girl misunderstanding this does think it more a matter of her father's stinginess and unwillingness to 'waste' money on something so trivial...so when she has an opportunity to win a tree, she does so with pride and hope...

The ending is predictable, I imagine. Most readers will guess that somehow, someway she will get her tree and somehow manage to make a connection with her father. But. It is a story worth reading at least once. (Though it is in some ways a children's book, there are a few words sprinkled throughout that some parents may want to know about before they read it aloud or share it with their children. I do think they are authentic to the story revealing the character of the father in his anger/rage.)


The movie. Well, I thought the movie stayed close to the book which was nice. And I thought the movie did a nice job capturing the tone of the book, especially capturing the heroine's love of art and her creativity. It is a good reflective, historical Christmas movie. But it isn't a favorite.   

Read The House Without a Christmas Tree
  • If you enjoy historical fiction with a holiday theme
  • If you enjoy coming-of-age stories with a holiday theme

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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