I wanted to read Where Treetops Glisten: Three Stories of Heartwarming Courage and Christmas Romance During World War II by Cara Putnam, Sarah Sundin, and Tricia Goyer since I first heard of it because I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Sarah Sundin‘s books. So far everything she has written has been set during WWII, and I enjoy the period backdrop as well as her well-drawn characters. I had never read Cara before and had read only one of Tricia’s books.
This book opens in the Turner home Lafayette, Indiana on Christmas Eve 1941. Abigail Turner’s boyfriend was killed in the bombing of Pearl Harbor and Meredith’s had broken her heart. For all of these reasons, no one was in much of a mood to celebrate Christmas. But Grandma Louise felt that celebrating Christ’s birth was especially necessary in such times, so she gets up early to start decorating.
The book then divides into three sections, each focusing on one of the Turner siblings during subsequent Christmas seasons and written by a different author. Each section is also headed by well known Christmas songs which debuted during the WWII era.
Almost a year after Pearl Harbor, Abigail is a college student and has decided that, for the duration of the war at least, her heart is closed to romance. There’s just no sense in getting involved with someone during uncertain times. She works part-time at the unique Glatz Candies (a real store, now known as McCord Candies), and on her way to catch the bus for work collides with a young man. He boards her bus as well, and she notices he has a limp plus seems to be under a heavy weight. She reaches out to see if she can be of help.
Pete Turner for years considered himself the black sheep of the family. His childhood bullying and prankish sense of humor hurt, angered, or aggravated every one subjected to it, until he finally gave his life to Christ. But old reputations are hard to escape, so he centers his life and work in a different town. On leave in Lafayette, he encounters a lost child and helps her home only to find that her widowed mother is the younger sister of a friend and the target of some of his worst bullying. She’s in need of some help, which he offers, but she has never forgiven him. Yet her daughter seems taken by him, and he seems to understand her daughter more than anyone else.
Meredith had met a young musician in college who was German born but seemed very Americanized. Just as their relationship was growing serious, she learns he has fled, and paraphernalia left behind indicates he was probably a spy. Hurt and betrayed, she joins the service as a nurse, and her unit is following the front lines to attend to the wounded. Christmas Day is also her birthday, and being so far from home weighs on her. But the last thing she expects is having to deal with her betrayal head on.
Grandma Louise’s influence is a running thread connecting all the stories, and an epilogue brings them all to a satisfying close.
At the end is a chat with the authors about their research and how they worked together on the project.
I very much enjoyed this book. The characters and situations were realistic and the element of faith was genuine. I enjoyed each character’s journey and what they learned along the way.
(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)