Chautona Havig has written yet another wonderful book! I’m losing count of how many she’s launched this year, but it’s quite a few. Christmas Embers is a powerful book. To read Esther’s great review, go here. If you want to buy the book, go here. During the next couple of days, there is a bonus study guide available; visit chautona.com/bonus to claim it. (It’s only available to those who purchase through the 28th of November, 2016.) Sorry about this short notice—I wanted to get this review written and posted earlier, but there’s been a lot going on in my life and I haven’t had the brain power to do it any sooner.
Adultery. What really happens to a family when a spouse commits adultery? Is it really a big deal? It’s so prevalent today; surely that makes the impact less? Emily, a mom blogger, thought it was a big deal. As she discussed the issue with her husband Sean while she wrote a blog post about the topic, she thought of it as a sexually transmitted disease—it affects everyone you have been in contact with, including your souse, your children, your extended family, and even your church. She had just seen firsthand the devastation caused by a man’s repeated affairs. Emily was so very thankful for the agreement she and Sean had to tell the other at the very first hint of any attraction to another person, to talk about it and stay open about it.
Emily’s Christmas project that year would hopefully lead to a book contract. She visited her daughter’s classroom and drew a cartoon picture of each of the children while she discussed what they wanted for Christmas—anything, whether it could be wrapped and put under the tree or not. As she had hoped, she got some unusual answers. One little girl wanted “nothing”. One boy wanted his Mom home again when he got home from school. And Joey wanted his father. After just a little digging, Emily discovered that he didn’t know who his father was or where he was, and she set out on a mission to find him and help Joey’s mother, who was dying of hepatitis. And the next thing she knew, her world was spiraling out of control.
Christmas Embers is, in some ways, a hard book to read. The subject matter is not something we want to ever even think about, much less discuss. It needs to be brought out into the open at times, however, to be able to help people who are affected by the sin of adultery. Jesus made it plain that adultery is sin; it is listed as one of the sins that will keep people out of heaven if they don’t repent and turn from it. Christmas Embers shows clearly how adultery can affect a family, a community, and a church. This is a powerful story. Chautona Havig has crafted a masterpiece here, a beautiful, and ugly, picture of love and sin. She vividly shows the emotional fallout after sin is revealed. Can those hurt by other’s sin ever learn to forgive and trust the one who has wronged them—or is this sin unforgiveable? Is it ever possible to reconcile a marriage that has been damaged by this sin?
The characters are so real. I identified in many ways with Emily, and really grew to dislike her friend Kate. Why are some people so determined to drag others down to their level? As always, there is humor along the way. I loved the scene on Christmas morning when the children woke Emily up, and her daughter announced, “She’s awake! She wasn’t, but I fixed that.” You’ll find yourself laughing along the way, occasionally, and crying at other times through this story.
I appreciated the author’s care in writing this book to not show any graphic scenes. With the subject of the book being what it is, it would have been very easy to cross lines that should not be crossed, but she didn’t. She was afraid she had, and sent out the first half of the book to several people to make sure it would be all right. I read that first half, and told her I didn’t mind allowing my teenage daughter to read it—she was that discreet.
I received an advanced reader copy of this book and chose to write a review of it.