the greatest gift book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

The Greatest Gift: A Christmas Tale by Philip Van Doren Stern shares a timeless Christmas tale sure to be enjoyed by people of all ages and all walks of life. In its pages, a story unfolds that most people would recognize for the movie it became instead of its humble pamphlet beginnings. Originally given as a Christmas card in 1943 to friends and acquaintances of the author, the story caught the eye of one Frank Capra who in 1946 made it into one of the most beloved films of all time: It’s A Wonderful Life.

Those familiar with the movie will know the basic story line of George, a man caught in despair and dwelling on his own insignificance during the holiday season. Despite a wife and children who love him, a reliable job and good health he is blinded by hopelessness perceiving his existence to be mundane and invaluable. While he is tempted to commit suicide and wishing he had never been born, a little man shows up who magically makes that wish a reality. George receives a chance to see what life is like for those he loves if he had never been born. Instead of people flourishing and happy, he sees sadness, brokenness and hurting…all because he had never lived. Realizing the value of his own life, George changes his mind and wants a chance to joyfully live with renewed appreciation and energy for the people and things that once looked so depressing.

I have long enjoyed It’s a Wonderful Life, but look forward to reading this story with our family as a new part of our Christmas celebration. This little book makes a great coffee table conversation piece especially since it includes an Afterword section written by the author’s daughter. Filled with little details, the reader discovers the origins of the story as well as the fascinating details about its its creation as a film, the actors and cultural influence. The overarching message of the value of each individual, hope and the gift of life makes this a book anyone can enjoy. This story is well known as a Christmas classic but it’s message should be shared every day of the year.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.