The Second Sister

Home for Christmas
by Carrie Weaver
(Harl. Super #1311. $5.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-71311-8
Home for Christmas is a sentimental tale just made for the holidays. It is a feel-good story that could have been melodramatic and sappy, but in the hands of Carrie Weaver is rich, well written and realistic.

Beau Stanton is divorced and has been carefree and relatively useless for most of his life. He has really had no focus. But his ex-wife called and dumped his 14-year-old daughter on his porch step, saying she needed a break. Up until now, Beau has been the kind of dad who popped in for a visit, took Rachel to fun places and then left again. Rachel is at the age of rebellion and has already had one incident of shoplifting. She is confused by her mother’s behavior and doesn’t know what to think of her dad. Beau doesn’t know exactly what to do, but is determined to show her she is important to him and he will not ditch her like her mother did.

Nancy McGuire is a wounded divorcee too. She was in a relationship where she did everything she could to be the woman her husband could love, only to find that not only did he not love her, he married someone else immediately upon leaving her. Nancy is the proud mother of 2-year-old Tatiana, an orphan from Russia who Nancy adopted following her divorce. She is winding her way through being a mother of a toddler with only friends for support. Her mother could not understand her need to adopt a foreigner and has never really dealt with the reality of Nancy’s divorce.

These two meet at the Parents Flying Solo group where they are randomly paired as “buddies”, similar to the AA sponsor system. The idea is that they can call on each other to discuss fears and concerns, seeking advice and just having a shoulder to cry on. While the idea is great, neither Nancy nor Beau is certain they are the right pair. When told by the group to live with it, they try to make the best of it.

What they find is friendship and attraction. Nancy is drawn to Rachel, having some sense of what it feels like to be left out emotionally by one’s mother. Rachel and Tatiana hit it off, with Rachel agreeing to babysit and feeling good about having that little girl think the world of her. Beau finds support from Nancy for his attempt at growing up. At first, Nancy fears he is just like her ex, acting as if he has no cares in the world. But what she uncovers is a man who is facing uncertainty with bravado and natural charm.

This story is completely driven by these characters need to find their way in the world of parenthood and adult relationships. Both show vulnerabilities that seem real while handling day-to-day issues that most parents face. Rachel is a well-rounded teen, wanting love yet seeking acceptance by peers. Finding a friend at the flying solo meetings and building a relationship with a boy who understands her is a nice addition to an already pleasing secondary story.

Home for Christmas is a holiday feel good story through and through. It is one that has hit the right mix of sentiment and reality. Enjoy.

--Shirley Lyons

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