An indomitable 30-year-old spinster living in a Tennessee backwater opens her home to an abused wild child, in a story of decent values, tidily told.
The small rural community of Morgan Hill in 1950 is the ideal and idealized setting for Christmas Hope series (The Christmas Promise, 2007, etc.) author VanLiere’s simple morality tale, which focuses on the uncomplicated relationship between a lonely woman and a needy boy. While Ivorie Walker, a single woman mourning the death of her mother, is wondering what to do with her life, a 7-year-old orphan with a cleft palate and no speech is being abused and starved by an evil man in a remote shack. When the paths of these two characters intersect, it’s not difficult for the reader to piece together what might happen. Ivorie rescues the child, whose name turns out to be Peter, and lives with the consequences, including gossip, expensive medical bills and a violent attack intended to discourage her from exposing a long-guarded secret. VanLiere composes this picture with warmth, humor and enough charm to rebuff accusations of schmaltz, even as lost dogs are found, rich developers are made to pay a fair price and aching hearts are mended.
If Norman Rockwell had written novels, they would probably have turned out as nostalgically reassuring as this one.