Shawna's Reviews > The Christmas List

The Christmas List by Richard Paul Evans
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's review
Apr 10, 2015

did not like it
Read in December, 2009

There are some spoilers in this review.

Having had first-hand experience with a relative that died of pancreatic cancer, I was disgusted with Evans' patently romanticized version of Sara Kier's death. One does not impart declarations of love and a pithy bon mot about how heaven-won't-be-heaven-if-you-are-not-there-my-love in the final stages of death by pancreatic cancer. In reality Sara Kier would have been comatose. And the schmaltz doesn't end there...Sara dies on Christmas Day...which was their 25th wedding anniversary to boot!

Another point where I had a lot of trouble suspending disbelief was when Sara tells her son how good his father used to be, how he had wanted to be a social-worker, how he had been a just and upright man, it was only after he got swindled that he turned evil. So Junior had never before heard this bit of family lore? What house did he grow up in? Was Sarah keeping it a secret? Call me crazy, but it seems like this family history should have come out much sooner, say the first time Junior expressed anger or frustration with his absentee father, maybe at age 13.

We are lead to believe that James Kier is real estate developer in Utah, and Mormonism is never mentioned...I can't believe that Mormons in good standing aren't going to be a little wary of doing business with a man who appears to be an unrepentant sociopath. Wouldn't his reputation preceed him in such a community and he'd quickly be frozen out?

Finally, James keeps a Bible given to him by an old woman whose walk he shoveled as an adolescent, a Bible that he can lay his hands on immediately. It's not buried in some box in the attic somewhere, no, apparently he took it with him when he left his cancer-ravaged wife!

So the moral we are to take from this little syrupy gem is that apparently, when you are rich, it is super easy to make amends. First, because you can afford to take lots of time off work (and have your staff handle everything.) You can buy houses for people you've wronged, you can give your loyal secretary an outrageous pay raise and let her work from home, you can remodel your basement to create an art studio for the son you've neglected, endow scholarships, what are us working class slobs supposed to do? (I guess since we'll never have the power to be as cartoonishly evil as James Kier, we don't have to worry about it.)

This book is a heavy-handed morality tale with very little nuance and flat characters. If this novel had been written by a thirteen-year-old girl, I'd say the girl had some talent, but I expect more than this pabulum from a grown-man with 13 (!) bestsellers to his credit.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Louetta Powell Yes, this is idealistic. This is why it's called fiction.

Beckiezra Ha, while I don't feel as vehement about things as you do, I think you expressed some of what bothered me about the book.

Shawna I don't like my fiction idealistic or pandering (or in some places blatantly false on the facts.) I would rather a book show that some slights/hurts/affronts against people cannot be solved, and you have live with your guilty conscience. :)

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