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Silver Bells    by Luanne Rice order for
Silver Bells
by Luanne Rice
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Widower Christopher 'Christy' Byrne lives in Nova Scotia with his two children, sixteen-year-old Danny and twelve-year-old Bridget. He makes his living growing Christmas trees and selling them each year in New York City. Christy has long desired and planned for Danny to take over the tree farm in the future, yet Danny is extremely intelligent and wants to go to college. Last year, on their annual one-month selling trip, Christy and Danny fought about Danny's future. Danny ran away and, other than one postcard, Christy has not heard from his son in over a year. This year, he plans to search the city, in hopes of finding his son.

Catherine Tierney is a librarian for a private corporation. Three years ago, Catherine's husband died on Christmas Eve. He promised that he would come back to visit each year at Christmas, but Catherine has been disappointed every holiday, since he has not shown up. After witnessing Christy's and Danny's conflict last year, Catherine made a point to get to know Danny and has been watching out for him. Will Christy and Catherine move past their preconceived notions of love and family, and agree to help each other? Can they find love and forgiveness?

Silver Bells is a sweet holiday tale. A bit different from what readers have come to expect from Luanne Rice, it's a decent read nonetheless. The tone is more downcast than the typical holiday book, although the ending is hopeful and leaves you feeling uplifted. Christy has long worked to make his tree farm and business successful, even when faced with tremendous hardship after a devastating fire season one year. Whether it's selfish or not, he desperately wants to pass the farm on as a legacy to his son. Danny's dreams lie elsewhere, and the old story of a father's and son's differing goals plays out here in a unique way.

Catherine's character is not quite as well developed as Christy's. Her transition through grief feels slightly forced, as the reader doesn't really get the full picture and understanding of her relationship with her husband. The ultimate conclusion is touching and heartfelt. The message to 'Look Up' is given in many places, and readers will come to understand that this means more than looking with the eyes, one must also look with the heart. Silver Bells is a delightful tale with underlying themes that will touch many - a great complement to the holiday season.

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