First off, let me say I’m not losing my mind to be posting a book review of a Christmas story two weeks after the celebration. But I read The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh right at Christmastime and didn’t have time to write a review. And since we as Christians should remember — and celebrate — the precious gift of Christmas every day, there’s nothing wrong with extending the Christmas season, right?
The Unfinished Gift is Walsh’s debut novel and tells the story of a boy named Patrick Collins during the Christmas of 1943. Patrick’s father Shawn is in Europe fighting in World War II and his mother was just killed in an auto accident. Patrick is taken to stay with his Grandfather Ian Collins until his dad can return home. But Patrick’s arrival is anything but welcome, thanks to a longstanding feud and old misunderstandings between Ian and Shawn. Thank goodness for Mrs. Fortini next door who takes Patrick under her wing and showers him with the love his grandfather seems incapable of giving.
Patrick is a sensitive boy and Ian Collins is a bitter old man. The changes that bring them to terms with each other unfold realistically and are enjoyable to follow. I’ll admit I had an idea where the story was headed and think (or hope!) I know what kinds of things might be in store with its sequel, The Homecoming, that’s due out in June. But The Unfinished Gift was a sweet story (without being over the top) that I would certainly recommend and would read again. It just might become a Christmas reading tradition.