baxter family christmas book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Organ donation is a fairly recent development in the field of medicine, but the value of such a gift cannot be understated.

When Erin Baxter died in an accident, her heart provided life to Kendra Barnes. That’s a fact, but the reactions from the various Baxter relatives were mixed. It’s hardly to be wondered at, then, that Erin’s father, John, – the patriarch of the family – nurtured a wish to get to meet the young woman who received the gift of life. Not all of his other children are as eager to meet her as he is, especially his daughter Ashley, who is caring for Erin’s youngest child, Amy, now 7. In fact, Ashley thinks her father has gone over the edge, and therefore, she decides not to participate in the family’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner.

When I was a child, the popular saying was ‘little pictures have big ears’. Of course, I thought it was ‘pitchers’ and since I couldn’t find any ears on any of our pitchers, I just simply ignored it all. But Ashley discovers that Amy does have big ears and overhears some of the talk about the upcoming dinner, and all the family, plus their guests and the general unhappiness it carries with it this year. The little girl somehow gets the idea that she’s to blame for all this general unhappiness. Of course, once Ashley and Amy get this sorted out, the hesitation vanishes and everyone willingly participates in the huge dinner.

Another cousin, the 17-year-old Maddie, still carries the unhappiness caused by her younger sister’s near-drowning 12 years ago. Sister Hayley was successfully resuscitated but with lingering problems, although she does function fairly well. The fact that she survived at all is the first miracle for the family. Maddie had been told by her father to ‘keep an eye on Hayley’ but the younger child still managed to fall into the pond.

These two story lines intertwine through this short book, which is a very seriously Christian/religion-oriented book. Fortunately, nearly all of the characters find their prayers being answered in the way they wish them to be answered, which is not always the result in real life. (The author is referred to as America’s favorite inspirational author and one who writes Life-Changing Fiction™.)

There is a lengthy and needed introduction explaining the Baxter clan, with all the children and their marriages and kids of their own. Very helpful to a first-time reader–complete with family trees! And a nice touch at the end are the recipes for feeding 20+ people for a holiday dinner, with the most detailed instructions I’ve ever seen for each of the several dishes–starting with the shopping! And then, each dish taken separately through each step. If you’re a foodie, or even someone facing a large dinner for the first time, you’ll be especially impressed with this part.

Overall, A Baxter Family Christmas was an interesting (if short) look at how one family coped after a huge disaster. Some may think it’s too sweet, but after all, it is a Christmas tale. So why not?

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First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Howard Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.