Over the holidays I brought a number of books with me which I will be reviewing over the next few weeks. Glenn Beck's The Christmas Sweater is a book that I did not bring with me, but my mother and her significant other insisted that I read this book while I was there. In this post I will present some of my impressions of this book.
Eddy is a boy who is growing up in a typical American household. His father works hard to maintain a modest lifestyle for the family and his mother diligently creates a loving environment for her family. When Eddy's father dies, his mother struggles to keep things together. Money is tight, but Eddy still dreams of receiving a new bicycle for Christmas. Instead, he is disappointed to find that his Christmas present from his mother is a sweater that she has spent hours of her spare time knitting for her son. His bitterness becomes an overwhelming force in his world causing him to reject his family. Eddy eventually learns a big lesson about love, sacrifice, and forgiveness that changes his outlook on life.
This was an excellent book for me to read while visiting family. The simple style made it a very fast read and did not require much in the way of thought. It's the kind of book that you might want to read when you just want to pass time. There is a nice message, but the presentation is not particularly profound. The book is light reading fabricated for the commercial mass audience.
There is a repetitiveness in the story as certain ideas are hammered into the reader which helps to emphasize the moral lesson that is presented in the end. I felt like the repeated themes served more as filler to make what could have been a short story into novel length.
Some readers may find The Christmas Sweater to be sentimental pap. I would compare it to something one might read in one of those inspirational magazines that have nice little stories. There's not that much wrong with the book as entertainment--I enjoyed reading it. However, I would not have wanted to pay for this book. I'm glad that it was just there for me to read, but I don't need it on my bookshelf.
I won't give away the ending, but I will say that this book uses a plot device that I've always felt was gimmicky and a no-no for most credible works of fiction. The writerly advice I've always heard is to avoid this device, but it's blatantly used here. It's probably what makes the story work, but it's also what makes the story shallower than it could have been.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes a wholesome story with a message and wants something light to read. If you're looking for something challenging then The Christmas Sweater will be unlikely to impress.
Glen Beck fans will probably love this book. Now I have nothing against Glen Beck, but I'm not a big fan either. I enjoy watching him on television, but I normally don't watch his show. This book is probably a best seller because Beck's name is on it.
If you or I had written this book, we probably would still be trying to find a publisher. This is another example of name branding helping to sell something that might otherwise never would have found a very big audience.
Have you read The Christmas Sweater? If so, what do you think about the book? Can you think of any other books written by celebrities that gained far more popularity than they deserved?