Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Comfort and Joy" by Kristin Hannah

Tis the season to be jolly....or in my case, binge watch Hallmark movies by the light of the tree while sipping hot chocolate and reveling in fuzzy socks. To keep the holiday mood rolling I picked up "Comfort and Joy" at my local library after doing a quick search for Christmas in the online catalog. Did you know there are an obscene amount of books that take place during and around Christmas? I guess I'm not alone in my love for the season.

Summary:  This Christmas is anything but merry for high school librarian Joy, who's recent nasty divorce from her husband has left her shell shocked and depressed. Especially since she walked in on her husband while he was cheating on her. With her little sister. To add insult to injury, when Joy pulled into her driveway after work she sawher sister holding what could only be a wedding invitation. This last act of betrayal spurs Joy into doing something completely out of character. Joy heads for the airport looking to get away from her pain by going anywhere that has an open seat. Joy's purchase of a ticket on a charter plane to Hope, Canada feels like just thing to help her heal in peace. What happens next changes Joy's life forever.

What I Liked and What Drove Me Nuts:  I want to start off by saying that this book was incredibly cheesy. That being said, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. "Comfort and Joy" was easy to fall into, easy to stay into and quite fast to read.  Kristin Hannah has a way of crafting characters that sucks the reader into the story. Point in case: Bobby. I've always had a soft spot for kids, and now that I'm a mom with the associated instincts and hormones, my heart went out to Bobby from his first appearance on the page. He was such a sad little boy who clearly needed something to help distract him from the loss of his mother and his estranged relationship with his dad. His developing relationship with Joy is just what both of them needed to start healing and was one of the best parts of the story.

I found myself feeling a spectrum of emotions as I tried to understand Joy. Joy is so sad and tired and love starved that I found myself feeling more sorry for her than relating to her. I couldn't--and didn't want to--put myself in her shoes. What I find masterful is that Joy wass clearly depressed and Kristin Hannah crafts Joy in such a way that the reader feels what someone in Joy's life would feel: empathy, frustration and a little bewilderment. Towards the middle/end of the story Joy eventually finds herself and with that the courage to go after what she needs which gave "Comfort and Joy" the feeling of hope and magic all Christmas stories need.

I was also drawn to the resort on the lake. For as long as I can remember I've been fascinated with the idea of running a B&B (which is ridiculous as I can barely cook and dislike body fluids.) The little run down resort in the Pacific Northwest sounded absolutely lovely and like the perfect place to recharge and heal.

There were two moments in the story that were "HOLY COW" moments for me. I can't say more without ruining the surprises for others that may want to read this book, but I will say that I didn't expect either of the moments. This is some feat as I pride myself on my ability to predict what's going to happen next in holiday movies/books. In fact, I might even read the book again to see if I can spot the signs of the second big surprise before the reveal.

Rating:  This is worth a read, but only if you secretly like Hallmark movies.

Also Read by this Author:  Firefly Lane, Winter Garden

Reviewed By: Tami

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