After reading Lost December I couldn't wait to read The Christmas Box. After reading it, I had mixed feelings. I was able to finish the entire book while my daughter was in her hour long gymnastics class, so it is a quick read.
I liked all the characters very much but wish they had been more deeply developed. I especially liked Mary, the widow, because although she was deeply saddened by her losses in life she didn't let them overrule her. I liked that she hired Richard and Kari more out of the desire for social contact than actual need. She had all this money and a fancy house but knew what was truly valuable in life. I liked that the story focused on what it means to be a good parent and what children truly want, which is your presence not the material things money can buy.
However, this very short book just didn't tell a very good story. The characters were cardboard and it was hard to feel any sort of real attachment to them. You know so little about Mary the widow and her hard life that it was next to impossible for me to feel real empathy. I only felt it because I am a widow in real life and can only imagine what it would be like to lose a child.
Overall the story was melodramatic, overly sappy, and a bit preachy. The title of the book is The Christmas Box but the box in the story was actually called a Bible box that had the Nativity scene on it. It felt a little like a bait and switch to me. I have nothing against Christian fiction, after all I loved Lost December, but honestly it's just not my thing. What I liked about Lost Christmas was that the Biblical message was subtle. Here, it felt more like a Sunday sermon. I'm sure the marketers knew that if the book was titled The Bible Box people would be less likely to read it. Worst of all, the fact that in the book description this story is compared to Charles Dickens's masterpiece A Christmas Carol is just ridiculous. Reading that gives the book a lot to live up to and sadly it doesn't deliver.