Friday, January 3, 2014

Once Upon a Winter's Heart by Melody Carson - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Emma Burcelli has suffered over a decade of dating disasters. But she concludes that love is officially dead when her grandfather Poppi suddenly passes, leaving her grandmother Nona devastated. To help out, Emma works in the family bookstore, which Nona insists must be decked out in sweetheart decor as Poppi would have done for Valentine's Day. Although she feels like a V-Day Scrooge, Emma quickly learns to enjoy the task with the help of a handsome family friend, Lane Forester, who shows her that hanging hearts is much more fun when done to the tune of Dean Martin. As Emma and Lane share time and memories of Poppi, she reconsiders the notion that romance is alive.

Just as Emma's heart begins to lift, however, she learns her sister has already staked a claim on Lane. Emma's mother and sister insist Lane only sees her as a future sister-in-law, but she can't help wondering if it could be something more. 

My Thoughts:
Melody Carlson creates some very unique family situations - develops some characters who turn out to be more complex than they appear, and, in short, delivers a novella that has surprising depth and offers an opportunity to look at relationships more honestly.  When I was first introduced to Emma Burcelli I thought she was being irresponsible by quitting her job and going home to her grandmother.  Over the course of the novel, I learned that she was being given the opportunity to identify and overcome some things in her life that were preventing her from enjoying lasting and meaningful relationships.

My first impression of Emma’s sister, Anne, was unfortunately worse by the time the novella ended.  Relationship is something that she needs to understand the meaning of!! She frustrated me to no end! In her defense, she seems to still have some teachability in her thick but pretty head, so I wasn’t left to despise the lady indefinitely. (J )  Anne’s son, Tristin, played a minor role in the story, but what his character represents is a lesson in relationship that is vital for everyone to learn!

And I can’t mention relationship without mentioning the romance between Nona and Poppi that influenced so many lives!  Lane Forester is one whose life was impacted deeply by Nona and Poppi, and I daresay he never dreamed that it would be through profound loss that he would discover the same magical romance in his own life that he had observed in the lives of his mentors.

There are many misunderstandings-lots of pride and just plain old fashioned deceit- that riddles the pages of this novella. There are examples of some universal relationship disciplines that everyone needs to be reminded of, and, in the end, there is a very satisfying and realistic resolution. (well, it not all neat and tidy, but it is realistic) I am happy to recommend this book!

About the Author:
Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she is a writer who loves to write! She is a bestselling and award-winning author of more than 200 books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than five million. Carlson's passion for 'true to life' fiction has had great success for both the young adult and women's markets. Informed and aware of the challenges and struggles facing teens today, she writes young adult novels that she hopes will change lives and women's fiction to which women of all ages can relate. Her popular series, Diary of a Teenage Girl (Multnomah), has sold more than 600,000 copies and her popular Christmas novellas have sold over 250,000 copies combined. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains. 

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