Evergreen: A Christiansen Winter Novella by Susan May Warren
The Christiansen family, like the rest of us, go through seasons in their lives. It’s now Mom and Dad Christiansen’s turn, in this heartwarming series, to face their own seasonal shift.
For Ingrid Christiansen, this season or stage seems to offer more challenges than usual. All six of her children are scattered, living on their own or experiencing newlywed life for the first time. Yet her sons Owen and Casper are at odds with each other and she desperately wants to do something to fix her brood. She just isn’t ready for the empty nest yet. And there’s another secret fear that she holds close to her heart, unwilling to even think about it much less tell anyone, even John–especially John, about it. So when Ingrid’s sister breaks a sixteen-year silence and asks her to take care of her son until Thanksgiving, Ingrid snatches the opportunity to once again mother a hurting boy.
John Christiansen was eagerly looking forward to a new season in his life with his wife. He envisioned a variety of activities, including a surprise trip to Europe to renew their vows, then travel on to Prague to visit their youngest daughter at the university there for Christmas. He looked on the “empty nest” as an exciting new adventure to relish and even re-kindle some spark in their relationship. What relationship couldn’t use a little more sparkle? But to his surprise, Ingrid didn’t share his enthusiasm at all.
When the family dog, Butterscotch, became deathly ill and needed surgery, he had to give up the surprise trip to pay for the aging dog’s operation. That was when he finally woke up to the struggle Ingrid was experiencing. Not that he fully understood what she was feeling, but when his nephew arrived for a short stay, he saw her issues visibly with this new opportunity to mother someone. All John could think of was his desire to protect her from getting hurt again when this nephew had to
leave. Unfortunately, Ingrid did not want his protection.
The one word that comes to mind as I think back over this book is nostalgia. In the previous book of this series, focus has been on the six Christiansen sons and daughters as they reached adulthood and found their purpose in life. Now it is Ingrid and John’s stage that is in focus. Their period of adjustment to a new phase in their married life is what makes this novella a classic. And yet the story is not over because Owen and Casper have yet to settle their differences and find their way. So this story is as much about looking forward as it is about the present. It is the scope of this series that is attractive to me.
I also love this author’s use of symbolism in this book. The evergreen symbol encapsulates the purpose of the phase in the family’s life. It is beautifully written. “We love living in the north because the seasons are ever changing. But there also remains a constant. It’s a miracle how, when an evergreen burns, the pinecones burst open, dropping seeds into the fertile soil of the charred land. Saplings now edge our property, sprouts of green against the white landscape. In the wake of good-byes, life endures. Even flourishes.” For those of us in this stage it offers up a hope for the future, a new way of thinking about the transition of our lives, and encouragement to press on– together, if at all possible.
Another thing I took away from this novella was that in life there are times that will take us by surprise, challenge us, cause us to question our direction, and offer us new perspectives. It’s ok to struggle through these shifts, and easier if we decide to face these new facets together, and in faith in God, rather than fighting the shifting relationship along with the other challenges.
This book is a beautiful addition to an already wonderful, touching series. I highly recommend it.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. through their Blog Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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