THE GIFT by Danielle Steel


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 A sugared concentrate of Steel's soothing-syrup craft (Accident, p. 16, etc.), in which a family tragedy, the plight of a unwed teen mother-to-be, and the drift of a grieving teenage boy conclude in a happy ending that, like a technicolor sunset, can be sighted from some distance. The Whittaker family--John (``a warm, caring man''), teacher Liz, 15-year-old Tom (sterling athlete and student), and 5-year-old Annie (quite adorable)--are in the midst of a cozy Illinois Christmas (hot chocolate, skating, the works) when suddenly little Annie is dead of meningitis. By the following summer (1952) the family has shattered. Switch to Iowa and pretty, gifted Maribeth, oppressed by a hidebound father who forces her to go to the high school prom in a navy blue dress with long sleeves. But rotten BMOC Paul, undeterred by navy blue, seduces the innocent Maribeth. Sure enough, Paul returns to his regular girl, and Maribeth is preggers. Dad roars her off to a convent for unwed mothers, but she leaves and de-buses at a friendly-looking town where she's hired as a waitress. Guess who's eating at the diner? It's Tom. Love simmers, eventually Maribeth tells Tom everything, and he tells his parents. Will Maribeth find a home for her baby? Will she realize her dream of college? Will the Whittakers bond again? Just you guess. And the ``gift''? Maribeth says of Annie, ``some people just come through our lives to bring us...a gift, a blessing.'' Later, as Tom and Maribeth stand before Annie's grave (not one possible tear is left unjerked), they know a peace ``strong and clean and honest'' and whether or not they will marry some day. They have ``hope and promise and dreams.'' With a pretty dust jacket and handsome gold lettering, an eye- catching, toasty, heartwarming gift item that should fairly pop off the shelves. (First printing 1,000,000; Literary Guild main selection)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-385-31292-X
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1994


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