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Mr. Ives' Christmas

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,030 ratings  ·  146 reviews
Hijuelos' novel tells the story of Mr. Ives, who was adopted from a foundling's home as a child. When we first meet him in the 1950s, Mr. Ives is very much a product of his time. He has a successful career in advertising, a wife and two children, and believes he is on his way to pursuing the typical American dream. But the dream is shattered when his son Robert, who is ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 23rd 2003 by Harper Perennial (first published November 1st 1995)
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Angela M
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing

I wouldn't have found this beautifully sad, heartbreaking yet uplifting story if I hadn't read Elyse's review and I may not have read it if I hadn't read Steve's review. I was quite stunned when I read his review, not just because it is as beautiful, sad, inspiring and uplifting as this novel, but because I felt an immediate connection with Steve and his loss . My family and I also lost a loved one to a violent act . Many years ago my brother who 22 at the time was a robbery victim. So of
Phyllis Eisenstadt
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one.
Recommended to Phyllis by: Steve Sckenda, our master reviewer
Shelves: favorites

For the second time in my life I am speechless, not merely because of Hijuelos's superb book, which stirs up every possible emotion, but for other reasons, as well. I just read Steve Sckenda's review, and am so stricken by his loss, which resonates with mine, that it is impossible for me to add anything further. I know how Steve felt when he found his wife murdered, and I can only imagine how he must endure living with that horror on a daily basis. Both Mr. Ives and Steve have similar
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lost souls
Recommended to Dolors by: Steve aka Sckenda
Shelves: read-in-2013, dost
“God’s most common form? The goodness and piety of others.” (93)

Every human being is confronted at some point by a choice between doubt or faith, indifferent despair or spiritual struggle, torn between breaking down and breaking through to a deeper way of learning.
I was raised and educated as a Catholic, but the simple, unquestioned faith in early life always gets tested. I started doubting the idea that death could be the ultimate sacrifice in earthy life to ensure eternal rest in Heaven. I
Elyse  Walters
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Today is December 1, 2015. The Christmas Holiday season has officially arrived.

I'm Jewish. I normally don't choose Christmas stories to read. I just don't.
I particularly shy away from books about Christian Faith.

I had a change of heart - earlier this year. After reading *STEVE'S* review. I purchased "Mr. Ives' Christmas", within seconds.
I intentionally waited for the season to read it. This is a novel that can easily be bumped to the top of your TBR list ( even if you've promised to read 23
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Christmas 2015 started for me on October 31. On Halloween night, while my kids were out trick-or-treating and I was home handing out candy, I switched channels on the television, going from Halloween 3: Season of the Witch on AMC, to The Christmas Card on Hallmark. I know. Too soon. I suppose I'm supposed to make moaning noises about "Christmas creep" and all that. But really, there's no harm in expanding the holiday season. Life is full of drudgery. The holidays are a brilliant contrast, full ...more
May 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to B0nnie by: Steve Kendall
"It is difficult to be religious, impossible to be merry, at every moment of life, and festivals are as sunlit peaks, testifying above dark valleys, to the eternal radiance." Clement A. Miles, epigraph to Mr. Ives' Christmas

A Christmas Carol. The Book of Job. Crime and Punishment.

Mr. Ives' Christmas channels all these through Catholic eyes.

But I look at Mr. Ives' Christmas as sort of The Recognitions lite, but completely without the satire. Instead we get unabashed earnestness. As in The
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I found MR. IVES' CHRISTMAS to be rather sad and depressing throughout most of the story.

As the novel begins, Edward questions his own life as an unwanted child left at a foundling house with no past history to sustain him. And while there are flashbacks of happy times depict here, a good portion of the rest of story is devoted to Edward's struggle to find spiritual peace after the tragic loss of his son at Christmas time.

As a man of strong faith, with an unbelievably devoted wife, Edward's

Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” – Isaiah 9:2

Last Christmas I read a couple of reviews of “Mr Ives’ Christmas” on Goodreads that were unbearably heartbreaking. I waited a year to get acquainted with Ives and now I know why his story resonated so deeply with individuals who have experienced a tragic loss during what is believed to be the most wonderful time of the year. Oscar Hijuelos’ book is pitch
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christmas-books
3.5 Stars rounded up for the writing.
I'm not sure why this book did not resonate with me as it did for so many readers. I was brought up Catholic, and I definitely have my ingrained thoughts about faith, so the focus on faith did not bother me. I generally like reflective works, but this one weighed too heavy on me.
Edward Ives son, Robert, is killed just before Christmas. The whole book is about grief and being unable to move beyond your grief, so your life is moving forward, with total
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Ives’ Christmas is both heartbreaking and heartwarming story told during various Christmases throughout Mr. Ives life. It is a book about love, loss, faith, and forgiveness. It had me questioning my own beliefs about certain issues and understanding.
Mr. Ives’ Christmas has been on my tbr list for a couple of years now to include in my annual December Christmas-themed reads. I knew going in that this was not a “Christmas book” per se from the reviews I’ve read, but what I did not know going in was how deeply this story of Mr. Ives’ life would affect me, would touch me to the core.

I think this will come in as my favorite read of 2017, squeaking in at the 11th hour! Hijuelo’s writing was masterful! He tells you the framework of the whole of
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Mr. Ives' Christmas is the poignant story of a man's grief over his murdered son. it's about other things as well, but the heart of this novel is Mr. Ives, an adopted orphan who finds the greatest joy in his life in his children and the murder of his 19 year old son.

The book is also an amazing depiction of New York City in the mid-20th century. It's very much the city I grew up in and Hijuelos is both accurate and evocative in a way few writers are. He makes that city come to life again and
Dec 20, 2018 added it
Recommends it for: anyone who has lost a loved one in a violent crime
Recommended to booklady by: Steve
Shelves: 2018, fiction, crime
This book came highly recommended by a friend, Steve, who is no longer on GRs. He also lost a loved one through a brutal crime*, so he related to this story on a visceral level. I can see this book having such a cathartic usefulness for those suffering from catastrophic losses.

Oh! Despite the title, be advised, it is NOT your usual Christmas novel.

*BTW, I am not giving anything away by telling you this. The author lets you know this almost from the beginning, then leaves the details to emerge
Book Concierge
From the book jacket: Mr Ives has a successful career in advertising, a wife and two children, and believes he has achieved the typical American dream. But that is shattered when his son Robert is killed at Christmas. Overwhelmed by grief and threatened by a loss of faith in humankind, Mr Ives questions the very foundations of his life.

My reactions:
I came across this book only because my Hispanic book club was looking for a Christmas book. I’d read Hijuelos’ Pulitzer-winner The Mambo Kings Play
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes bad things happen to good people. It did in this book and it did in real life with Steve. Look at what happened in San Bernadino just a few days ago. It could happen to me, to you. This beautiful world has an element of chaos, perhaps madness, that can be devistating and knock you all the way down.

So how does one come to terms with losing the love of your life and cope with the sheer senselessness of it all? Mr. Ives' Christmas tackles this subject. And so Mr. Ives' life has changed
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Ives, I am not ready to let you go.

What started off as a slow read for me and a bit of an annoying overabundance of commas turned into an appreciation for what the author accomplished here. I was almost ready to discard this at first because of all the commas the author was using. It was really slowing me down. Then there was the use of lists. If the author was going to tell you what was in Mr. Ives’ basement, you would get the whole inventory. If he was talking about the churches near Mr.
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Oscar Hijuelos' third novel began a bit slowly but in some way I have yet to figure out, took hold of me with a gradually tightening grip and left me gasping for relief at the end. The writing is deceptive. It seemed almost simple, almost pedestrian, until I found myself embedded in the hearts and minds of Mr Ives and his wife.

The couple, Mr Ives of Cuban descent and Mrs Ives of Irish, are bound together by passion, intellect, and faith. Content to remain living in a multicultural neighborhood
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This 1995 short novel by Oscar Hijuelos tells the story of the life of Edward Ives. Ives was adopted as a young child by a man who had adopted 3 other children. Edward knows nothing of his birth parents but with his dark Mediterranean looks, he is sometimes discriminated against in New York City where he lives his entire life. Ives is a skilled artist, and goes on to have a long career as an illustrator in advertising. He marries an Irish American woman, Annie MacGuire. Ives is a deeply ...more
Bam cooks the books ;-)
#2015-Reading-Challenge-Group--Week-47: a book set at Christmas.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Ives thinks "that [God] was of the Spirit and He did not interfere in human affairs...He provided a light toward which to aspire..." This is a remarkably moving story of faith put to the test, of facing heart-breaking loss and spiritual crisis. Ives is a genuinely good person who has done his best in life, loved his wife, family and friends and his God...until one day just before Christmas in
Jan 07, 2012 rated it liked it
This is the haunting tale of one man's struggle to find peace, love, and spirituality in his life, particularly after the shocking murder of his only son right before Christmas. The book then tracks Ives throughout his life, focusing on Christmas-time each year. I picked this up in my effort to find peace and spiritual reflection in this hectic holiday season. There were quite a few inspiring moments of the human experiencing the divine, but the deep focus on the Catholic religion and practices, ...more
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
2.5 to 3
Engaged me at beginning but became bored third of the way in and thereon. Just continued to plod, plod, plod along.
David Eppenstein
I greatly admire the ability of those rare gifted authors that can take the life of ordinary people and weave them into a story that is both readily identifiable and uplifting. Such stories remind all of us that everybody has a story and in those stories we are the heroes and the villains, the saints and the sinners and that we all have that story to tell but we don't. We don't because none of us feels that our lives are at all interesting or worth discovering. It is authors like this one that ...more
Russell Sanders
I adore Oscar Hijuelos. As I’ve said in another review of one of his books, there is a subtle, Cuban rhythm that permeates his storytelling, and it is like a warm fragrant beach night. So what could be better than Oscar Hijuelos and Christmas combined? I saw his book Mr. Ives’ Christmas and was immediately attracted to it, figuring a little Christmas salsa would be refreshing. But Mr. Ives’ Christmas is not a light holiday read, nor does it have that rhythm of the previous novels by Hijuelos I’ ...more
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I braced myself for a very sad book, no parent would wish to outlive their child. Instead, however, the sad event was introduced early and the novel became more of a meditation on sadness. The lives of the characters are quiet but well-considered, I was reminded of Colm Toibin's or Alice McDermott's characters. I appreciated the message of faith and the place it held in Ives' story, but I was even more struck by the idea of being able to bravely move forward in the face of tragedy. Wonderful.
Sara Snow
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I honestly don't know what to say about this book. It was so simple I found myself waiting for "it" to happen, in every chapter. And when "it" kept not happening I started to wonder what was the point of this book. But somehow, somewhere I fell for Ives and wanted nothing more than that which he finally faces in the end. And at the end I cried at the beauty of the prose that took me so by surprise.
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Touching, real, hopeful, detailed. I've never seen faith explored like this.
Dec 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: holiday
This book was very well written -- Hijuelos is a master of description. It is an exploration of faith, grief, forgiveness, and love, and I believe many would find Mr. Ives journey a hopeful and very realistic one. I, however, found it mostly depressing. It left me with a feeling of sadness, which is why only 3 stars.
Jeff Lochhead
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I walked away from this “sad” tale with an overwhelming sense of peace and freedom. The Divine’s interaction with its creation portrayed in such a way to convey understanding of the human condition, lacking in any judgement in mans attempt navigate spiritual faith.
Dec 11, 2017 rated it liked it
The writing is impeccable and I did enjoy the novel, but I can't give it a higher rating because I felt a thread of connection was missing throughout the whole story. To me, I felt like I was reading a series of vignettes connected by the same plot line but nothing else cohesive holding them together. The characters were well rounded and realistic.

He is an incredibly descriptive writer and I felt like I got to know New York in a different way as a city with her own story to tell through the
Steven Symes
Apr 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read this book several years ago, but have circled back and have re-read it several times. The book I know was criticized by some in the Latino literature community because there is not much Latino-ness in the story or the characters. I think the book marks an important point in Latino literature, where a Latino can just write a really good story that does not have to be about Latino culture, etc. Hijuelos certainly is a very competent storyteller, and has been called the modern day Dickens by ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Mr Ives' Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos 1 17 Nov 12, 2015 06:01AM  

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Oscar Hijuelos (born August 24, 1951) is an American novelist. He is the first Hispanic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Hijuelos was born in New York City, in Morningside Heights, Manhattan, to Cuban immigrant parents. He attended the Corpus Christi School, public schools, and later attended Bronx Community College, Lehman College, and Manhattan Community College before matriculating into and
“On his back, Robert must have had time to see something beautiful, and not just the ugliness of a city street at the end of life. Even with the tremendous pain in his badly gutted belly he would have looked up beyond the fire escapes and the windows with their glittery trees and television glows, to the sky about the rooftops. A sky shimmery with the possibilities of the death; lights exaggerated, the heavens peeled back- a swirling haze of nebulae and comets - in some distant place, intimations of the new beginning into which he would soon journey” 10 likes
“Oh yes!...The sweet summons of God to man. That's when He calls you up to His arms. And it's the most beautiful thing, a rebirth, a new life. But, just the same I'm in no rush to find out.” 7 likes
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