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A Redbird Christmas    by Fannie Flagg order for
Redbird Christmas
by Fannie Flagg
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

When fifty-two year old Chicago resident Oswald T. Campbell visits his doctor for a routine physical, he expects to get the usual lecture about quitting smoking and the like. Oswald is told that his emphysema is so advanced that he has less than a year to live. The doctor advises him that a change in climate is crucial, and hands Oswald a (very out of date) brochure for a hotel in Lost River, Alabama. Having no real friends or family to hold him, Oswald decides to go for it.

Oswald moves to the tiny town of Lost River and starts to get to know its inhabitants. The ladies, who haven't met many single men, are antsy to find him a wife. The sole town store is run by Roy (the only other single male) who has a pet cardinal (redbird) named Jack. Jack is popular with everyone for his antics and personality. We see the residents of Lost River take a young crippled girl, Patsy, under their wing, as she befriends Jack and lives for the hours she can spend with him. As Oswald becomes acquainted with the townsfolk, he finds himself feeling more a part of a community than ever before in his life.

This novel is the perfect holiday read. It's uplifting, joyful, and filled to the brim with love and friendship. Oswald's transition from a cranky man ready to give up on life, to a person with an open, giving heart is beautiful to behold. The quirky residents of Lost River all have tales to tell of heartache and pain, yet they surround Oswald and each other with care. As is typical with Fannie Flagg, moments of delightful humor are sprinkled throughout (I especially enjoyed small-town Alabama's take on AA).

Reading A Redbird Christmas is a cheering experience. Though Oswald's own future is bleak, a dose of hometown charm has him looking forward to a brighter tomorrow. Recipes are included at the end of the book, so that readers can make the yummy foods mentioned in the story for themselves. And although the title speaks of Christmas, only part of the story takes place in December. Its heartwarming miracles of small town life will give readers a taste of holiday spirit at any time of the year.

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