Dr. Karen Hutchins Pirnot is a Clinical Psychologist who has treated children and their family for decades. She has worked through the Department of Human Services, the Juvenile Justice System and in private practice in Iowa and Florida. Her fiction books reflect the characteristics seen in her practice and they stress building a sense of personal efficacy. All of Dr. Pirnot's books are certified as family-friendly media.
A Christmas of Graceby Dr. Karen Hutchins Pirnot
11 year old Grace Gillian overhears the landlord evicting her mother from their mobile home in Little Rock, Arkansas. She fears her mother will relapse into alcohol abuse and she will again have to care for herself and her 5 year old brother Henry James. Grace develops a plan to keep herself and her brother safe but it depends upon her brother's cooperation. In the past, James has appeared highly anxious and clingy and Grace fears he will undermine her plan. When the children are discovered living in the local library, they instantly realize that their lives are about to change forever. It is Christmas and the children are seemingly at the mercy of the Little Rock social servces system. They long for a Christmas miracle.
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Reviewed by Brenda Casto for Readers' Favorite "A Christmas of Grace" is the story of eleven year old Grace Gillian and her almost six year old brother Henry James. For the Gillian children life had never really been stable. Because of their alcoholic mother, Grace had always been the one to make sure that her little brother always had something to eat. When Grace overhears their landlord telling their mother that they have to vacate the trailer they have been living in within two days, Grace is unsure what they will do, but when she wakes up and learns that her mother has abandoned her she realizes it is up to her to take care of her brother. Since it is Christmas break the only plan she can come up with is for them to stay at the public library. Her greatest fear is that they might be found out and put into the foster care system, but what actually happens when their secret is discovered will change their lives forever. Dr. Karen Hutchins Pirnot tells a story about two children that seems so realistic that it brought tears to my eyes on several occasions. I could easily imagine that this story could honestly happen in the way that it did! Though Grace is only twelve she seems so much more mature, which is often the case whenever a child finds itself placed in the role of the caregiver to a sibling. Henry James was such a sweet boy, but often exhibited anxiety, because he was never sure what might happen. He really seemed to blossom though once they were in the library, his hunger for learning to read was so touching! Both children were very savvy at coming up with ways to survive for another day. The relationship between the siblings was touching, and really shows what it means to be family. In addition to the author's very realistic portrayal of how alcoholism can affect families, she also touches on several other relevant topics such as race relations, and how children can often tease others that are less fortunate than they are. A touching story that deals with a tough subject that leaves the reader feeling hopeful, and thinking about the characters long after the final page is read! Although this story takes place during Christmas, it would be a great read anytime of the year, as it is filled with several valuable life lessons that would be beneficial for children and adults alike.
Reviewed by Patricia Day for Readers Favorite The main characters in the delightful book "A Christmas of Grace" by Dr. Karen Hutchins Pirnot are Grace, an eleven year old girl, and her six year old brother, Henry James. Mature before her time, Grace has been Henry’s guardian more times than she can count. Truth be told, every time their mother drinks too much or brings one more man into their home, Grace is left to tend to her younger brother. One fateful day, the little family is told that the home they cherish will be gone – just before Christmas – leaving them with a dilemma they would rather not have to deal with. Lou Ann, their mother, vanishes – seemingly unable to handle one more struggle – leaving the children to find a way to survive without parental help. How Grace provides a roof over their two little heads is the central theme of this book. What she has to do, in order to stay warm and fed, left me in awe of her ingenuity. I found this book a very easy and fast read. I felt Grace's anguish fully. With Christmas approaching, her mother gone, no home, no other family to turn to and a little brother relying on her to keep him safe and fed, she is under relentless pressure - to the point of bending some rules so that they can survive. How she does it and what the outcome is, is for you to find out for yourselves. There is nothing in the entire book that is uncomfortable to read, so it is ideal for young folk, teens and beyond.
I wish the Hallmark channel would make a Christmas movie from this book. It was absolutely captivating! Little 11 year old Grace Gillian is put in a horrible position when her mother abandons Grace and her little brother after they are evicted from their mobile home in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is just before Christmas in the 1960's and very few options are available to Grace if she wants to keep her brother Henry and herself out of the hands of social services. Grace comes up with an ingenious plan which will not only keep them safe, but it is also something that might guarantee her little brother Henry a better education in the poor school in which he is in the minority student. I love the way Dr. Pirnot develops her characters. They are always put into tough situations and then, the reader gets to join in cheering on the children as they become tougher and handle their problems head on. This book just came out and it was a joy to read during the holiday season. But, I'd read it again any time of the year!