Robert Reed gave his life for his country in the early days of World War II. His sacrifice was honored when his widow and son were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor. At Christmas, the final decoration Marge Reed hangs on the family’s tree is that medal. Rather than being a symbol of honor for young Jimmy Reed that shining star represents loss, pain, and suffering.
Yet a message delivered by one of Robert’s fellow soldiers and a mystery letter found in a Bible put a father’s sacrifice and faith into perspective and bring new meaning to not just the star hanging on the Christmas tree but the events of the very first Christmas. Then, when least expected, a Christmas miracle turns a final bit of holiday sadness into a joy that Jimmy has never known.
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About the Author
Ace Collins defines himself as a storyteller. He has authored more than sixty books that have sold more than 2.5 million copies. His catalog includes novels, biographies, children’s works as well as books on history, culture and faith. He has also been the featured speaker at the National Archives Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted a network television special and does college basketball play-by-play. Ace lives in Arkansas. Learn more about him by visiting AceCollins.com.
Read an Excerpt
The Christmas Star
By Ace Collins
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2012 Ace Collins
All rights reserved.
December 21, 1945, 3:20 p.m.
Sharp County had never experienced such a collective sense of euphoria. First, the Great Depression and then the war had created an atmosphere of heartache, insecurity, chaos, and turmoil, tearing up families while dashing dreams and crushing security. Now there was a hope fueled by the fact that freedom had been preserved, and "Peace on Earth" was no longer just a line on a greeting card; it was a reality. Christmas was more than just a holiday this year; it was a celebration! The promise that had been offered in Bing Crosby's hit single "I'll Be Home for Christmas" had been realized and for almost everyone in every corner of this part of Arkansas, as well as all over the United States, it was the most wonderful time of the year, the decade, and perhaps even the century.
December 21 was the day everyone in the rural school district, children and teachers alike, had been looking forward to. For those spending seven hours a day behind the native stone walls of Ash Flat High, 3:20 p.m. was the moment when Christmas really began. As the clock signaled that specific instant and the final bell sounded, kids poured through the old two-story school building's large oak front door and down the well-worn concrete steps like the bulls racing through the streets of Pamplona, Spain. Their warm spirits met a cold north wind as scores of enthusiastic kids rushed across the yard and onto Calvin Jenkins' yellow GMC school bus. Other equally ecstatic youngsters raced past the mud-splattered vehicle, up the dirt road toward downtown Ash Flat, just to spy all the wonder that was waiting to be discovered in the community's handful of stores. Smiles and laughter were everywhere, as everyone seemed caught up in holiday spirit—everyone but Jimmy Reed.
While others rushed past at supersonic speed, Jimmy, a tall, thin sixteen-year-old, hung back at the top of the steps, a tormented look filling his deep green eyes. Dressed in a blue wool jacket that was about two sizes too small, he stuck his ungloved hands deep into the pockets of his patched jeans. In a sense, he was an outcast in a world of holiday cheer. For the boy, there was no light at Christmas, only foreboding darkness brought on by great loss. While all his friends saw Christmas as a joyous dream, to Jimmy it was a nightmare, a prison of loneliness and a day of despair. If Jimmy could erase any day from the calendar, it would be December 25.
"See you in January," Wylie Rhoads called out from behind as Jimmy slowly ambled down the steps. Glancing back over his shoulder at the short, stocky school superintendent standing in the arched entry, the youth shrugged his shoulders and smirked. That expression brought an immediate response.
"Yeah," the boy shot back at the school administrator, his voice and body language showing great contempt and little respect.
As their eyes met, the man pointed his finger and barked, "Get the chip off your shoulder, son. You've got two weeks to shape up that attitude. When you come back, I want to see a different person. Someone with the kind of character your father had."
"You leave my dad out of this," Jimmy hissed.
Marching down the steps until he was face-to-face with the angry kid, Rhoads emphasized his threats in a firm, deliberate tone. "I can't do anything about what happened to your father and neither can you. But you're driving your mom to an early grave while you're setting yourself up to end up in reform school or worse. You've got too much potential to waste it!"
"I haven't done nothing that bad," the boy snapped, his green eyes never leaving the man's.
"Not yet," Rhoads shot back. "But it's coming. I've seen it before. Starts with stuff like breaking windows, sneaking behind the fence to smoke, and going out getting drunk, but it always ends with a whole lot more. And you're heading that way at a breakneck pace."
Jimmy shook his head, "You don't know nothing."
Frustrated, Rhoads turned his back on the boy and marched back up the five steps and into the building. As he did, Jimmy leaned against the school wall and pulled a cigarette from his pocket. Who cared what old Wylie thought? So what if he got kicked out of school? It was a waste of time anyway.
"James Reed, don't you light that up on campus or anywhere else."
Audrey Lankins was one of the few students who hadn't given up on him. Like Jimmy, she was a junior, but while he had developed a knack for getting into trouble, she walked on the right side of the street. She was Ash Flat's prize student, and with her blonde hair, blue eyes, and striking figure, she was also the prettiest girl in the county as well as the youth leader at the Methodist Church. She was the ideal daughter for her banker father and the apple of everyone's eye. And as much as he didn't want to admit it, Audrey was also the one person he truly wanted to impress. Yet she couldn't know that, not now or ever. So though he yearned to reach out to her, he delivered his reply in a machine-gun fashion he hoped would shut her up and drive her away. At this point, he couldn't afford to have anyone close enough to know what he was planning.
"What do you care? You won't get in trouble if I have a smoke."
"I just care," the pretty blonde assured him. "I don't want you in trouble. That's not who you really are. You've always been my best friend, or at least that's how it used to be."
Forcing his attention toward the street, he twirled the cigarette from finger to finger of his right hand, slipping it between one and then the next with the dexterity of a magician, before finally letting it slide into his palm and easing it into his coat pocket. When the thirty-second show was over, he looked back at the girl. "Didn't feel like smoking anyway. I'll save it. But it has nothing to do with what you want. You understand?"
Audrey smiled. Clutching her black purse to her chest, she moved to the boy's side. "You coming to the church program on Sunday night?"
"Naw, got better things to do. Got something really special planned."
"I'm going to sing," she added enticingly, now she was more begging than just giving him information on the program. He approved of her approach, but he still couldn't go. There was something far more important calling him.
"And you'll do great," he mumbled, "but, like I said, there are things I got to do."
"Fine," she replied in a huff. Then, her tone changing, she added, "But it would mean a lot to me if you'd come. So please try."
He didn't understand why she cared about him, why she continued to reach out to him. Maybe it was true that good girls liked bad boys. Who knew? So, though he had no intention of stepping into her church or any other on Sunday night or on any other day, he nodded.
"Jimmy," Audrey's sweet voice pulled his eyes back to hers, "even if you don't come, you have a merry Christmas."
Shaking his head, Jimmy laughed. "Christmas is for kids. I don't need it and don't like it. I don't care if it ever comes. Just another day and not a very good one either!"
The smile drained from her face as quickly as a solitary raindrop evaporated in the scorching August sun. Pushing her hair over the shoulders of her coat, she said, "I don't understand. Everyone likes Christmas, and on top of that everyone is home this year." The words hovered in the cool air like a dark cloud. She probably knew the moment she spoke them she'd opened a wound too painful to contemplate, much less talk about. Yet words can't be unspoken, and they rarely disappear as quickly as they are said. And so her words hovered just out of her reach for moments too long to count.
Turning his face back toward the old school bus, Jimmy chewed on Audrey's observation. She'd opened a large door to a place where no one would have thought him rude to lash out at the girl. If the superintendent, or a teacher, or even one of his friends had spit out what she'd just said, he'd have jumped on them. But this was Audrey; she was incapable of pouring salt in a wound. It wasn't her nature. So, after taking a deep breath, he said, "Christmas was OK when I was a kid, but that was before the war."
Moving two steps closer, Audrey placed her right hand delicately on his shoulder and whispered, "What I said was stupid. I'm sorry."
"Nothing to be sorry for," he mumbled, once more digging his hands deeply into his pockets. After all, she was not the one who had changed everything. She had no part in it. Christmas had once been wonderful for him, too. There were still bittersweet memories that were woven into the fabric of his mind. He and his father had always gone out into the woods to find and cut a tree, drag it into the house, and laugh about a host of different things. And they had strung popcorn while Jimmy's mother pulled out old decorations and hung them on the tree.
After their turkey dinner and a dessert of homemade pecan pie, his dad would pull out his Gibson guitar, and for more than an hour they would sing every carol they knew, many three and four times. And they always ended with "Silent Night," with his dad explaining the story behind the song before they sang all the verses. Finally, just before bed, Jimmy's mother picked up his father's well-worn Bible and read from Luke about Jesus' birth while Jimmy moved the pieces of their hand-carved nativity scene across the coffee table to match her words.
But the war had changed most of that. Yes, the nativity scene was still on the table. Yes, they still cut and decorated the tree. But now the Gibson remained propped against the wall, as did the innocent joy that had once defined those December days. And it wasn't just Christmas the war had changed, though the wounds might hurt the worst on December 25; in truth the war had altered everything.
"Jimmy," Audrey's voice brought him back from the past to 1945. "You OK?"
"Yeah," he said, straightening his shoulders and forcing a smile.
"Your dad," she said, her hand still lingering on his shoulder, her light touch pushing through the coat and into his heart, "was a great man."
It was funny, Jimmy had once used those same words to describe Robert Reed. He'd boasted to his friends, including Audrey, that his father would lick the Japs all by himself. Back then, he supported that bragging by quoting from long, handwritten letters he and his mother had received from the Pacific Front. When he told what was in those communications, his friends hovered around Jimmy at the lunch table, completely awed by the fact that a Marine from their small town was fighting the Japanese in places they'd never heard of.
But all the bragging abruptly stopped in May 1942. Jimmy had just gotten home from school and was headed out to gather the eggs when he saw the dusty black truck pull into their long dirt lane. An old man he'd never seen, dressed in a dark blue uniform, got out of the vehicle and marched past Jimmy without saying a word or even acknowledging his existence. The stranger paused for a moment at the base of the porch, taking off his hat and smoothing his gray hair, then slowly, as if he were carrying a backbreaking load, climbed the three steps to the landing. After taking a deep breath, he knocked lightly on the weathered front door.
A few moments later, Jimmy's mother, dressed in a blue flower print dress half- covered by a yellow apron, appeared. It seemed strange to Jimmy that she said nothing and didn't even smile; rather, she simply stepped out and nodded as if she knew what the visitor wanted. He didn't speak either. Instead, he just pushed a shaky hand clutching a light brown envelope toward her. That simple action was just like turning the sound knob down on a radio; everything was suddenly tomb quiet. Marge Reed studied that envelope for almost thirty seconds, then, after wiping her hands on her apron, finally took it. No, now as he recalled those moments, Jimmy realized she really didn't take it; it was more as if she accepted it because she knew she had no choice.
Jimmy stood mute and confused as his mother pushed her auburn hair back off her forehead and took a seat in the porch swing. She stared off toward the pond for several minutes, long enough for the Western Union representative to start his old Ford truck and head back down the Reeds' quarter-mile lane to U.S. Highway 62. Only after the vehicle had disappeared over the hill in the direction of Agnos did Marge finally take a deep breath and gently tear open the communication. The thirty-eight-year-old woman studied the message on the yellow paper briefly before setting it carefully down on the swing. Showing no emotion, she resolutely pulled herself to her feet and silently walked back through the front door, closing it gently behind her.
When Jimmy heard her rattling the pots on the stove, he slipped from the yard, climbed up onto the porch, and moved quietly over to the swing. Picking up the telegram, he glanced at the message. It began simply enough, "We regret to inform you ..."
Those words were all that was needed for an adult to know how the story ended, but it was not enough for a thirteen-year-old boy. So he read on, "... that Private Robert J. Reed was killed in action while fighting in the Philippines."
Jimmy read no more before dropping the telegram onto the porch's wooden planks and racing off into the woods. He would stay there, tears burning his eyes and streaming down his face, until the sun went down, and he came home a much different person than he had been just hours before.
That news changed everything. From that day forward there would be no more letters from overseas and there was suddenly no pride in being the son of a Marine. The news of the war, which had once drawn him like a moth to a flame, was now avoided.
In June 1942, his mother got a job in town at Miller's Store. Soon after that, the farm animals were sold and the fields leased to a neighbor. Yet those actions, while putting food on the table, didn't ease the pain. It was still there in October. That's when Jimmy found out his father really was a hero. It seemed Robert Reed had refused to retreat from his position, as others fled in the face of overwhelming odds, and instead had stubbornly manned a machine gun, holding off the advance of scores of enemy soldiers while hundreds of American Marines escaped to safety. Yet, even as others patted Jimmy on the back and spoke glowingly of the lives his father had saved, Jimmy did not care about those who had survived: his thoughts were only of the one who hadn't.
It was December 24, 1942; just at the moment his mother was placing dinner on their table, a knock at the door brought the news that would forever cast a cloud over Christmas. Three men, two Marines and one local congressman, explained that for his heroic actions Robert Reed had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. With a sense of solemn pride, they handed the citation and medal to the small woman who now carried the burden of being both a mother and a father. And that was where the most painful holiday tradition began. With the trio of visitors looking on, Marge removed the yellow glass star that had always been placed atop the Christmas tree, setting it on an end table, then pulled the medal from its case and carefully draped it over the top of the old tree's highest branches. With tears in her eyes she stepped back and studied that shiny star and blue ribbon.
Tears also rushed into Jimmy's eyes. Yet his tears were not fueled by pride, they were inspired by anger. To him this star was not about heroism, it was a symbol of loss—his personal loss. And that is when the attitude took root. That is when he began to lash out. As the years passed, he embraced the attitude he saw in gangster movies—grab what you want and walk over anyone to get it. The change affected every facet of his life. He had no use for anyone in a position of authority. He didn't care about his studies. He lived to push the limits and test the rules. Life was short, his dad proved that, so he vowed to live hard and fast.
"Jimmy," Audrey looked at him with her big, sympathetic eyes.
"Got to go," he sighed.
Pushing himself off the wall, he walked toward the old yellow bus. As several little children sang "Jingle Bells" and a host of his friends talked about what they would be doing the next few days, Jimmy Reed was consumed by the hate he felt for this holiday and the star that would soon be placed on their tree. It was time to get even with Christmas, and he knew just how he was going to do it.
Excerpted from The Christmas Star by Ace Collins. Copyright © 2012 Ace Collins. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For Jimmy Reed things have changed…life has become harder, he is angry at the world and he has no interest in Christmas…ever since his father gave his life for his country. While his mother puts up the Congressional Medal of Honor atop the tree each Christmas to remind herself of his bravery, all Jimmy can see is anger and betrayal. His father’s fellow soldiers, a mystery letter, an unexpected failed plan and mentoring all give Jimmy hope, as well as a refreshed look at life and events. A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS: The Christmas Star was very appropriately named, not only for the physical medal but what it all represented. Taking place during WWII, this story is also relevant today with all the families involved in loved ones missing Christmas. I enjoyed watching Jimmy work through his feelings/thoughts/ actions while finally coming to terms and accepting events of life. Jimmy learned the life lesson of giving which should be so prevalent at Christmas time (as well as throughout the year). Per his biography, Ace Collins is a very successful author whose books I will definitely consider reading in the future. RATING: 4 (out of 5) pennies *I received a complimentary copy of The Christmas Star from Abingdon Press for my honest review*
In Ace Collins' book The Christmas Star, Jimmy Reed doesn't want anything to do with Christmas. This year the community is excited about Christmas since everyone is home from the war--everyone except Jimmy's dad. Jimmy's dad had been killed in action and now his Congressional Medal of Honor was the only star on their Christmas tree. Feeling angry at the world, Jimmy was headed downhill fast. Looking for a quick buck. Jimmy tangles with the wrong crowd and doesn't think he can find a way out. Fortunately for Jimmy several individuals take an interest in him specifically the school bus driver Calvin and Audrey, a cute girl at school. Calvin becomes an unexpected mentor when he takes Jimmy with him to deliver Christmas presents to the less fortunate. In the process, Jimmy learns more about his father and the impact his father had on their community. As Jimmy discovers the true meaning of Christmas and what kind of person his father would want him to be, he tries to get out of the hot water he is in without causing himself or his mother to be hurt. Several twists and turns result in an unexpected resolution to this issue which the proceeds to precipitate several additional surprises which cause this Christmas to be extra special for Jimmy. The Christmas Star by Ace Collins is a warm enjoyable tale for the Christmas season. This particular tale appeals to both men and women. Individuals of all ages ranging from young people to the elderly will enjoy this story. My own pre-teen daughter can't wait to read it, and I look forward to passing my copy on to my own father as well. The Christmas Star is a 5 star story! I received a complementary copy of this book from Abingdon Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Christmas Star, by Ace Collins, was one of the most captivating and memorable Christmas stories I have ever read. The best part for me was the last half of the book, when I was really able to see the hand of God working in Jimmy’s life. It began with a man named Calvin and Matthew 25:35-40. Jimmy knew then how much trouble he would be in if he continued on the path he was taking. He knew he wanted a way out, but he didn’t think he would be able to do it. I learned a lot about hope and listening to what God is telling you. Some of the other people who were going to participate in the criminal activity were able to change, because God was talking to them and changing their lives. They all also knew there was always hope. I think every adult and older teen should read this book. It could help turn their lives around. Please find a copy today. Disclosure of Material Connection- I received The Christmas Star, by Ace Collins, for free from Abingdon Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK Jimmy Reed is still dealing with his losing his dad and even though he died a hero in the military, that doesn't stop the hurt. Jimmy finally finds himself in some dangerous situations and now has no way out of them, except for a miracle. Calvin the bus driver has nothing, but is always giving to people, and is always happy. When circumstances brought Jimmy and Calvin together, Jimmy's life started changing. I love Calvin and the way Ace Collins used Calvin's character to speak to Jimmy. Jimmy was thinking about money, but because of riding with Calvin while he gave out speical Christmas gifts, Jimmy realized that a person can be rich and not have money or anything. I appreciate the author writing a book such as this for all of use to read this Christmas season because it made me think more about giving than receiving, and reminded me that it is not how much money and things we have, but what we do with what we do have. I highly recommend Ace Collin's new book The Christmas Star for an awesome Christmas read! Run out and grab your copy now! Or better yet, click HERE and order it from Amazon.
I adored this Christmas story and I learned the history behind some holiday traditions and songs as well. Character development and storyline were excellent elements of this faith building, heart warming story. Young Jimmy Reed had really lost his faith due to the loss of his father, but this Christmas season, he shared some eye opening revelations with a little help from his friends. But would it be enough for Jimmy to open his eyes as well as his heart? I realize it is very difficult to write a Christian themed book and balancing the Christian aspects without the reader being offended and feeling like those aspects are being crammed down the reader's throats. I feel that Ace Collins achieved that precarious balance with his writing of The Christmas Star. Those Christian aspects were indeed crucial to the story created, as Jimmy had been brought up in a home filled with faith. Sometimes as with Jimmy's story, it's hard to hold onto that faith when something as big as losing your dad to a war occurs. And sometimes it takes a culmination of Christmas miracles to rebuild the hidden faith we still keep in our wounded hearts. This is a very well written book and it touched my heart deeply.
This is not typically my kind of book; however, I felt this one made a personal touch with me as my grandfather served in World War II and I have had students lose their parents and watched their struggles where some turn to those wrong crowds and fall into a funk just as Jimmy did.
A sweet story. The Christian message of how to deal with hardships and difficulties are realistically portrayed. It is not always easy to accept lifes hurts, but it is always better to deal with them with God's help and the proper outlook. This book explains how and why.
The Christmas Star is the first book I have read by Ace Collins and it won't be the last. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and gave it the 5 stars it deserves. There is a huge message of love, forgiveness, faith and hope in this wonderful story. Jimmy Reed learns about all of them. He learns that no matter how angry he is, how bleak the circumstances are and how hopeless things appear they don't have to stay that way. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I promise you will not be disappointed. I just finished this book and I am feeling good! Thank you Ace Collins!
I really enjoyed the trip back to Christmas after WWII
Another book ruined by excessive plot spoilers. One even quoted passages from the book. Bn, how much more excessive can you get? Please, ban these posters. They are costing you sales. Ppl will not buy a book when these ppl tell every detail in their plot spoilers. Why buy the book when they tell you in their r?eview
Jimmy Reed is a high school boy that is getting ready for Christmas break and is dreading the holiday b/c his dad died serving his country in the war in 1942. Jimmy has turned a bit bad by school officials and isnt the boy he once was b/c he misses his dad and is still hurting and doesnt have an outlet for that hurt. Also is his mom who dearly missed her husband but loves Jimmy with all her heart so much that she does what mothers do and she gets him a brand new green coat for Chritmas and gives it to him early.....However, Jimmy's friend gets them a gig with some criminals to overtake the safe at the town 5 & 10 who is raking in the money and did i mention his mothers new employer since she had to get a job after her husband died in the war. So they think Jimmy is perfect to steal the key and they can take the cash with not even breaking an entering....Well I was very moved by this book and it was my first Ace Collins book as I won this on Shelf Awareness, but Mr. Collins you can be sure i am going to buy your other novels b/c i very much recommend this book. It is a short 214 pgs excellent Christmas Holiday read! Thanks shelf awareness and Mr. Collins.
This is the heart-warming tale of a boy growing up without his dad, a heroic man who valiantly died in the war (World War II). The story came to life for me, and I grew to know and love each character…each of the good characters, that is. The bad ones were simply detestable! “Christmas Star” will keep you turning that pages as you follow Jimmy through just four momentous and life-changing days. It’s a beautifully crafted book and you will want to read this every Christmas. **The publisher sent me a complimentary copy of this book in return for my honest review. I wasn't required to post a positive review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.**
This book seems like one of those famous moments you get from a Christmas card. The story is about a teenaged boy, Jimmy, who lost his father in WWII. The fact that his country awarded his father the Medal of Honor posthumously seems to be causing Jimmy resentment. Jimmy and his mother have had a tough time ever since. Money is short. They can only afford the essentials. Jimmy is growing increasingly bitter and is starting to act out. He is even getting involved with some real criminals. It will take a lot of faith and a Christmas miracle to keep him from going so far down the wrong path that he will totally lose his way. I found the book entertaining in a naive sort of way. I thought the author could have ended the book before the last chapter pushed it a bit over the top. This book provided for review by Abingdon Press.
Some really good Christian points are brought out in this story. Dealing with the aftermath of his fathers death, Jimmy, is struggling. He is one angry boy and getting into trouble. Love how Calvin, his school bus driver, is sent at just the right time to meet Jimmy. What a man, who is living his faith. We also travel with Jimmy as he decides to help a group of thieves rob his Mother's boss. We wonder what is going to happen to this family. Did enjoy the discovery in the family Bible. What I really had a hard time with was the ending. It was very unbelievable and was not really explained at all. This is a cute Christmas read that shows some really great Holiday Spirit. I received this book from the Publisher Abingdon Press, and Pump Your Book Virtual Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.
f you are looking for a book to get you into the Christmas spirit, this is the book for you. THE CHRISTMAS STAR has all the qualities for a great Christmas read. It reads rather quickly, the story is centered around the Christmas holiday, and is an excellent reminder of what Christmas is really about. I read THE CHRISTMAS STAR as part of the Pump Up Your Book book tour. I decided it was the perfect book to read while traveling to St. Louis over Thanksgiving and I was right. As I mentioned, it was a quick read and was a delightful story to get me into the spirit of celebrating Thanksgiving and soon, Christmas. I truly enjoy historical fiction and with this book set in the early 1940's, it was right up my alley. The story begins with Jimmy, a teenager who is grappling with the fact that his father died protecting our country and is frankly, not in the Christmas spirit like the rest of his small town in Arkansas. His mom is struggling to make ends-meat like most of his neighbors after the depression and he is down-right angry at the world. Certain people come into Jimmy's life, both good and bad, and he has a decision to make about which direction he wants to go. I have to admit, when I started reading the book, I was pretty sure I knew how it would all play out. But, Ace Collins kept the surprises coming and left me satisfied and teary at the end. I appreciated the Christian piece to this story as Jesus truly is the reason for the season. The Biblical piece wasn't overbearing, but was just part of the conversation, which made it feel real. In fact, I thought the whole story was very believable and could have easily happened in any small-town in America. Collins has a great way of describing his settings and characters that you can picture them as you are reading. My favorite characters were Calvin and Audrey, and their effect on Jimmy was certainly a highlight of the story. I also appreciated how much this story reminded me to listen to that inner voice. Jimmy was frequently struggling with decisions along the way and at times ignored that voice urging him to make the right decision. So often, we ignore that voice as well. Jimmy had given up hope for ever being able to enjoy Christmas or his life, ever again. This story showed how important it is to continue to have hope and to never give up. I had a couple quotes from the book that really spoke to me: -Anger is a wound that only makes things worse. Page 23 -That's the nature of busy people in a busy world. They are so busy seeing what is in front of them they fail to see what is around them. Page 50 I truly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who is looking for a Christmas story that will get you into the spirit of giving of yourself, loving others, and having hope.
It's Christmas, 1945, but while many Americans are rejoicing, Jimmy Reed is still grieving the loss of his father. His pain causes him to make questionable choices, but a message delivered by a soldier and the discovery of a letter from his father shines a new light on his circumstances. This is a heartwarming tale of a Christmas miracle, set in the WWII-era South; one of my favorite settings for a novel, by the way. With a little humor and the occasional history lesson thrown in, this is a story for the whole family to enjoy. 5 stars Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Pump Up Your Book book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Ace Collins in his new book, “The Christmas Star” published by Abingdon Press takes us into the life of Jimmy Reed. From the back cover: Can the broken heart of a child be healed by an unexpected Christmas letter? Robert Reed gave his life for his country in the early days of World War II. His sacrifice was honored when his widow and son were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Each Christmas, the final decoration Marge Reed hangs on the family’s tree is that medal. Rather than being a symbol of honor for young Jimmy Reed that shining star represents loss, pain, and suffering. Yet a message delivered by one of Robert’s fellow soldiers and a mystery letter found in a Bible put a father’s sacrifice and faith into perspective and bring new meaning to not just the star hanging on the Christmas tree but the events of the very first Christmas. Then, when least expected, a Christmas miracle turns a final bit of holiday sadness into a joy that Jimmy has never known. Ace Collins seems to understand the trauma you receive when you are a teenage boy and your father dies. It seems your whole world dies with you. And you have no idea of how to deal with that pain so you lash out at the world and that only gets you into trouble. That is exactly what is happening to Jimmy Reed. It’s been three years since his father died in World War II and he is not improving. However there are individuals in his life who want to see him healed of his pain and set out to do exactly that. Mr. Collins throws in all kinds of sub-plots that keep the story moving briskly however the focus is on Jimmy. Through Mr. Collins’ excellent writing skills we come to understand Jimmy and want him to be healed from his almost crushing pain. We rejoice when he rejoices but I am not going to give away major plot points. You are just going to have to read this book. I guarantee you will really enjoy it. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Abingdon Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
The hardest thing to deal with during the holidays is the death of a family member. Yet despite the fact the war is over and people are finding reasons to celebrate with the depression in the back and soldiers returning home, it's not the same for Jimmy Reed. While it's been a couple years since him and his mom received a telegram informing them that Robert Reed was killed while defending his country, he hasn't been able to deal with the loss of his father. His mom, Marge works long hours at Miller's Store in hopes she might make enough money to get Jimmy something he needs for Christmas, but she knows the one thing he wants most in the world will be something that no amount of money can buy. She struggles with finding a way to help him deal with his grief and lately he's been getting into more trouble at school. She fears it's only a matter of time before he gets into trouble that will have a lasting effect and will only get worse. Now that Christmas is almost here, Jimmy learns of a way to make some extra money but simply providing a couple of guys with the key to Miller's Store that his mom has. If he does that, they will offer to split the take once they rob the safe the weekend before Christmas. Jimmy wonders if being able to have enough money will be able to turn his life around, but once he commits to following through with this plan, he can not go back or they will threaten to kill his mom. In the novel, A Christmas Star by Ace Collins, the reader is taken back to December 21, 1945 where the story begins. The country is beginning to celebrate once again except for Jimmy. Despite the people he encounters in town, he can't help but feel he will never live up the image of his dad who won the Congressional Medal of Honor, which has now replaced the traditional Christmas star on the top of their tree since they received it. To Jimmy, it's just another reminder that his dad is gone and will never come home. This is such a classic story of seeing different sides to a situation and how Jimmy deals with coming to terms with a solution is strictly brilliant by this author. I know this novel has found a permanent home in my library and will be one I read each year just before Christmas. I received A Christmas Star compliments of Pump Up Your Book Tours and Abingdon Press for my honest review. I'm such a huge fan of any Christmas Fiction books and when Ace Collins coupled this one with a background of World War II, I was completely interested. It truly has a timeless message of hope and light in the darkest of places, especially during the Christmas season that will last long after you finish the book. Truly this is a book that can be read at any time during the year and I have to rate this one a 5 of of 5 Christmas Stars!!!