HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Christmas Box: 20th Anniversary Edition
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Publisher: Simon and Schuster, 2012
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Suitable for anyone
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Evans, Richard Paul. The Christmas Box: 20th Anniversary Edition (originally published in 1993; republished in 2012 by Simon and Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY 10020). Richard (Rick), his wife Keri, and their little daughter Jenna move from their home in southern California back to Rick’s hometown of Salt Lake City, UT. After living in a cramped, one-bedroom apartment for a while, they read a classified ad in which an elderly lady seeks a live-in couple for meal preparation, light housekeeping, and yard care, children welcome. Thus, the three move into the large Victorian mansion of Mary Parkin with their own private quarters seven weeks before Christmas. While moving some things into the attic, Rick sees a “Christmas box” in which he later finds some letters indicating that Mary has some kind of deep secret.
However, as Christmas draws nearer, Rick is consumed with his work and is seldom home. When Mary becomes ill, she asks him if he know what the first Christmas gift was. What is Mary’s secret? What was the first Christmas gift? And what will happen to Mary? Since The Christmas Box, which Richard Paul Evans originally wrote as an expression of love for his two daughters never intending for it to be public, was first published, more than eight million people around the world have been impressed by its story. Obviously, the plot associates Christmas with the birth of Christ. Publishers Weekly pointed out, “It’s notable, however, that unlike many well-known Christmas tales (such as Dickens’s), which carry that message in a basically nonsectarian manner, this is steeped in specific Christian imagery and belief as the author draws on the drama of Jesus as God’s sacrifice for the world’s sins, and of his crucifixion and resurrection.”
Yet, even those of us who do not observe Christmas as a religious holiday can still enjoy and appreciate the overall message. There is a single reference to drinking wine, and the euphemism “darn” appears one time. The biggest complaint that I saw was that many people felt that the book was too sentimental, sweet, saccharine, and syrupy. My response is, yes, it does tug at the heart-strings, but it is not overly emotional. It is simply a nice, touching tale with a profound thought about what is most important in life, especially in our relationships with those whom we love.