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Zanna's Gift: A Life in Christmases

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  248 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
From the pen of a masterful storyteller comes a touching and inspirational story of love, loss, and the true meaning of Christmas that will take its place beside Richard Paul Evans' "Christmas Box Trilogy," as a timeless classic that will be passed from generation to generation.

When the Pullman family lost their eldest son Ernie to an unexpected illness just before Christm
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by Forge Books
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Community Reviews

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Aug 20, 2012 Janette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book on CD, well done. Nice little "feel good" story that begins when Zanna is 4 and goes until she is a grandma. All about family and love, also about grieving. Message of the story is grieving is loving.
Dec 10, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: well-not-so-much
In case Hallmark needs new material...
Jan 25, 2015 Mj rated it liked it
Zanna’s Gift: A Life in Christmases is a touching and heart warming story that spans many years and multiple generations. Zanna (short for Suzanna) is one of the principal characters who is introduced as a very young girl and becomes a great grandmother by the end of the story.

One theme of the book is love and loss. The eldest child, Ernie who is Zanna’s brother, in a close knit family of six, dies suddenly just before Christmas at the age of fifteen. The entire family, both parents and siblings
May 28, 2010 James rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes melodrama
Shelves: fantasy
Oscar Scott Card, under a pseudonym, Scott Richards, made a small novelette called Zanna's Gift, a Christmas story told from the view of the late 1930s and spans through present day.

It's the story of the Pullman family who have a family of three teenage boys and one four year old girl. The girl, Zanna, loves to draw and it seems her big brother Ernie is the only one who can decipher her scribblings.

The story starts off in a shocking way, when the boy, who is built up by the author to have so muc
Oct 24, 2011 Chy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Also available under the pseudonym, Scott Richards.

I know I'm not supposed to do things this way, but I have rated the first part of the book and a few things thereafter. And just sort of...ignored the rest.

The beginning of the book, when Zanna is a child, messed me up, y'all. With her brother dying, and the pictures she drew for him. It was kryptonite to my little black heart.

And there's a line that brother (Ernie) tells their mom, that I love. I can't quote it exactly, for the book is...somewh
Dec 19, 2015 Verona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just couldn't quit till I read this complete story. It was a life lesson story set in a family just like yours and mine with kids and problems and learning. I felt like this was a real family, and as the story unfolded and the kids grew up and married, it seemed like our own family. We learn and grow as we have kids and get together and have reunions and remember our childhood. The kids grew up, developed talents and careers, but still stayed connected to their parents and their roots. The ...more
Feb 08, 2011 Jessie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was in the mood for Christmas books this year. Scott and I listened to this story while we drove to the Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert. It is a touching story, and a little sad. It has a different flavor than most Orson Card books. **** stop here for spoilers **** A young girl draws a picture that no one can understand but a big brother. The family is close, but the parents don't even get her. Then the older brother dies. The girl is lost without her bosom friend. The other brothers try to ...more
Cathrine Bonham
Dec 26, 2014 Cathrine Bonham rated it liked it
Very short and very emotional. Seriously I could not stop crying. Thank goodness it was so short. I doubt I could have finished it if it had been much longer.

The story is about the Pullman family, specifically the youngest Zanna. Their oldest son dies and the rest of the book is about how this effects Zanna for the rest of her life. I know that at four years old it must have been traumatic but as the family member with the fewest memories of Ernie I just can't understand why this was the definin
Anna Rebecca
May 27, 2011 Anna Rebecca rated it really liked it
This isn't a long book or even an especially detailed book yet that really doesn't seem to matter. I enjoyed the book a great deal. I liked the way the author told the story through Zanna's point of view and how the author maintained a certain innocence in Zanna's voice despite her advancing years. As with any book of this nature, it tugs at your heart strings. Any loss, but especially the loss of a beloved and respected elder brother when a child is young and cannot fully comprehend that loss, ...more
Dec 03, 2008 Ryan rated it really liked it
This book forced me to admit that I am a judge-a-book-by-its-cover type guy. Just looking at this book, I never would have read it. It's why I have not yet and probably never will read The Christmas Box. However, when I found out Scott Richards is the psuedonym of Orson Scott Card, I instantly added it to my Goodreads cue.

And he did not disappoint me. Card simply has a way of developing characters by showing both their virtues and vices-spun-as-virtues. While this generally makes his heroes an
Dec 01, 2008 Aroura rated it it was ok
This is really a short story sold on it's own. It's only 144 pages, but it's a small book and the print has got to be at least 14. It's in the tradition of the little Christmas books (i.e. "The Christmas Box") and I felt compelled to read it, because it's actually written by Orson Scott Card, just under a different name. Um, it was okay (hence the two stars), but I must admit, I've never really liked, nor been impressed with any of the short Christmas stories. I usually find them too ...more
Oct 28, 2013 Roy rated it it was amazing
The last part of the last sentence in the book pretty well sums it all up, "and how grief is just another name for love." When I first started reading this book, I thought I had made a mistake in reading it as it caused all sorts of memories of my first little daughter dying. But then as I read on, I saw the great wisdom that was being testified of in the book. So much love and understanding about the experience of losing a loved one is expressed in this book in such a short number of pages. ...more
Amanda Morris
Dec 11, 2008 Amanda Morris rated it liked it
This is a sweet little book. The story moves fast, but the characters are very well defined and you learn to love them. It's a great story about family and love and how important a family is through the generations. The family is developed well and as I read the last page, there was a feeling of missing them and wanting to continue to know what the next generation of the Pullman family is doing. While this book seems to be marketed as a Christmas book, it is really appropriate to read at any ...more
I probably shouldn't have read this, as I had sworn off all Orson Scott Card at least until the end of this year. But I thought it would be nice to listen to a Christmas story around Christmas time. Zanna's Gift is a rather sad Christmas story entailing (view spoiler). Yet it has a nice message. I didn't consider it remarkable enough to actually recommend to anyone. But it's short and wasn't a complete waste of time.
We all know I'm a sap. Especially when it comes to Christmas stories. Tropes and stereotypes I might find annoying in any other book are usually overlooked if the book is a Christmas tale. Card's short book is rife with sentiment and a certain kind of predictability, but I enjoyed it anyway. When the oldest son of a family dies in his sleep just before Christmas, his four year old sister completes the drawing she was making for him as a Christmas present, and it becomes a part of the family's ...more
Feb 23, 2016 AlmightyNovel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ANyone at Christmas-time
Shelves: 2016
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 03, 2011 Patricia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
This is an emotional Christmas story that doesn't come across as too sentimental or sappy. Well, unless you view healthy family relationships as sappy. There are no dysfunctional family issues going on here. The language is simple and most of the story takes place well in the past. Think The Waltons. I did find many of the incidents believable and wondered if Card took any of the story from his own experiences. It was a quick and uplifting holiday read.
Jan 19, 2009 Dacia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who have lost a child, anyone who loves family bonds
Recommended to Dacia by: hatrack
Wow - this book was a real heart ripper. Of course, like most of Card's works, it was very good. However, the fact that it started with a death made it hard to listen to at all without crying almost continually. Since I do most of my audio books to and from work, this was a slight problem! Even so, I will probably listen to this book again and again because the family relationships are so true.

Beth A.
Nov 10, 2008 Beth A. rated it liked it
This very short book was written by Orson Scott Card under a pseudo name. Although it’s about events that happen during the Christmas season, it’s really a story about family and the endurance of love more than about Christmas. It’s heartwarming, simply told, and has a certain amount of realism many similar stories lack.
Jennifer S
Mar 20, 2016 Jennifer S rated it really liked it
Such a moving short story of family connection. Suzanna shares her unique at and view of the world with her brother Ernie Til he passes, but uses her artwork to keep a family closeness that just as generations are passing, is starting to fade, her artwork finds another soul mate within the family to pass the story and artwork on to.
Jan 07, 2009 Angela rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of The Christmas Box
Recommended to Angela by: my Dad
Shelves: fiction
Orson Scott Card wrote this book under a pen name, and while the writing style is so different from his science fiction, I enjoyed it. The form is similar to Richard Paul Evans, but I prefer Card's writing. This is a touching Christmas story about love and family and how to cope with loss.
Jan 29, 2013 Trudy rated it liked it
Zanna's Gift is a short, sentimental tear-jerker, not so much about Christmas as it is about loss and grief. It is poignant and tender, and delivers enough genuine feeling to allow the reader to forgive and forget any overdone sweetness.
Dec 29, 2011 Stephanie rated it liked it
Cruelty: I was lent this book while pregnant.

Masochism: I kept reading even though the first sentence talks about how hard it is to lose a child at any time, while I was pregnant.

So yes, I cried all night while reading this book. But I finished it. And then I cried again.
Dec 08, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: christmas
A quick read and good little Christmas book.
Zanna is 4 yrs. old when she makes her special gift for her brother...but the family finds it a very special part of their Christmas tradition too. The story winds through her life over the years til she is a grandmother...and her gift keeps giving!
Jan 09, 2010 Shannon rated it liked it
Shelves: have-in-hand
Scott Richards is a pseudonym for Orson Scott Card.

A bit of a tearjerker, which is not quite what I expected. It would not have necessarily been my first choice to take to the gym... However, it is a nice little story, with a fuzzy little Christmas message.
Jan 16, 2013 Becca rated it really liked it
I read this on my mom's kindle. The story moves quickly and it was easy to read. It was a tear-jerker though. I cried several times while reading it. It is just a very real story about life and loss and love and tradition. I enjoyed it.
Feb 05, 2009 Kendra rated it liked it
Zanna's Gift is a pleasant little book to read around Christmas time, much like The Christmas Box. It is actually written by Orson Scott Card. I didn't love the writing style but I didn't mind reading it once, especially since it's so short.
James Howald
Nov 20, 2009 James Howald rated it it was amazing
Such an incredibly simple and powerful story. I found myslf desiring the final chapter even as I knew how it would end. And I did drop a couple of tears as i contemplated trully knowing and being known.
Dec 28, 2012 Mary rated it it was ok
Nicely restrained in terms of the sentimental-Christmas trap, but this is a loose, rambley narrative. Some of the most interesting strands, like a potentially psychopathic young cousin, are dropped while new "beloved" characters are introduced abruptly.
Dec 15, 2008 Tal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
as a whole, i thought this was a sad and sweet story. i think one of the things card is good at is building an emotional story. (i've seen it in some of his sci-fi work.) there was still some of the unbelievable dialog in there, but the story still won over that. i really liked it.
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Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.
Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series Th
More about Orson Scott Card...

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