Author: Jason F. Wright
Published: Shadow Mountain; Oct. 2005
Genre: Holiday fiction
Source: Personal copy
Synopsis: A journalist happens upon a human interest story that winds up teaching her lessons about love and forgiveness and renewing her own faith in human kindness. On Christmas Eve, twenty-something Hope Jensen is quietly grieving the recent loss of her adoptive mother when her apartment is robbed. The one bright spot in the midst of Hope's despair is a small jar full of money someone has anonymously left on her doorstep. Eager to learn the source of this unexpected generosity, Hope uses her newswoman instincts to find other recipients of "Christmas jars," digging until her search leads her to the family who first began the tradition of saving a year's worth of spare change to give to someone in need at the holiday. Wright commits some rookie mistakes in style and pacing; the novel veers heavily toward melodrama at some junctures, and he tends to show us and tell us about his characters. Still, the heart of this novella is its transformative message about the power of giving, a compelling theme that calls to mind books like Pay It Forward and The Kingdom Assignment.
My Take: I like to read at least one holiday-themed book in December, if not more. So when my bookclub decided to pick Christmas Jars for our December read I jumped on the bandwagon. Being both a book and author I had never heard of before I was very excited to give it a try! Also, at a slim 122 pages it was just my size! I'm sorry but more books could learn from author Jason Wright and pack just as much of a punch in a small novella as they do in a 500 page book and I would be a happy camper!
After picking this book as a bookclub, we almost dropped it because it could be defined as Christian fiction and no one in the bookclub wants to throw one's religious views on anyone else, so I do want to make it clear from the get go that this book can be marketed as such. However, we also decided that as a holiday, Christmas itself is a Christian holiday so we'd keep on trucking with our original choice.
Hope Jensen is our leading lady. As a baby her birth mother wanted a better life for her than the hand that had been dealt, that of a father who beats his mother and a mother who was too poor to do much about it, so she dropped her off at a local restaurant on New Year's Eve and left town. Hope was picked up by a single middle aged woman who could not have loved Hope more from the get-go and together they formed the perfect little family.
Eventually Hope grows up and develops a passion as a journalist. This passion leads her discover something unusual in her town, the mystery of the Christmas Jars. On Christmas Eve people seem to mysteriously leave a jar full of change and some bills to those desperately in need. When she finds herself the recipient of one such jar she has to get to the bottom of who the givers are. However, what she doesn't know is are the givers people who want to be revealed and are the other recipients any more knowledgeable than she is?
It's a great little Christmas story wrapped up in a tiny little book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My only qualm is that it is very moralistic. Not that I don't have morals! I just felt like I was a little kid being read a book telling me how to live my life as a grown up. Regardless, for the season it was an entertaining pick!
Cover Lust: I can't say that this cover doesn't fit the book!