Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Silent Gift by Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley

"You know what's best about today, Jack?" Mary asked as she stirred the last stubborn bit of a Hershey's bar until it too melted into the pan of chocolate on the hot plate.  "The best thing about today is that we've got each other."  She turned from her task, standing at the end of a long bureau, and looked across the small room at her son.  Jack stood with his eyes fixed on rows of tiny pink roses that ran up and down the wallpaper.

"In all of Chicago, I'll bet there's not one other mother with a son like you and not one other boy who has a mother like me.  That makes us unique, little man.  It makes us special."  (from The Silent Gift, page 37)

Set in the 1930s, The Silent Gift tells the story of Mary Godwin Sinclair and her deaf mute son Jack.  Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley begin the book with the unusual story of Jack's birth, so readers know right away that he's a special little boy.  Jack is born to a mother who loves him fiercely with all her heart and soul and a father who is ashamed of his disability.  Jerry isn't going to win any husband or father of the year awards; while Mary is worried about the family being evicted from their apartment, Jerry buys himself a new car and comes home with a wad of cash and divorce papers in his pocket.  Mary, focusing only on providing a good home for Jack and escaping Jerry's tirades, grabs the cash and runs.

After leaving Jerry, Mary must find a place for her and Jack to live and a job that will allow her to be with Jack all day, as he cannot be left alone or with anyone else.  Forced to spend time in a homeless shelter after losing all their money, she learns that Jack has a special gift -- a gift that goes on to save some lives and bring hope to others.  However, Mary also discovers that some people want to use Jack's gift for profit, namely Jerry, who in a twisted turn of events is reunited with his family and causes Mary to be separated from Jack.

That's all I want to say about the plot because not knowing Jack's special ability and the events that transpire because of it allows the story to unfold slowly and beautifully, with just the right balance of action, tension, and drama.  Landon and Kelley have created some memorable characters in Mary and Jack, with their connection to one another taking center stage.  Mary devotes her entire life to Jack without ever once hearing him say he loves her or hugging her or doing more than showing a slight hint of recognition in his eyes.  Mary carries a lot of baggage, evidenced by disfigured hands hidden by white gloves, and these issues prompted her to run into the arms of a man who cannot accept her or their child for what they are.  At times, Mary seems too naive and trusts the wrong people, but she likes to see the best in everyone.  I think we all can learn something from Mary in the way she treats her child and approaches life.

The Silent Gift is labeled as Christian fiction, but if you don't tend to read books in this genre, don't let that label scare you off.  Landon and Kelley do not preach to or try to convert their readers.  The Christian aspect of the story is tied to Jack's gift, but it's not overdone.  Mary struggles with her faith, but that also isn't overdone.  As a Christian, the biggest problem I have with the Christian fiction books I've read is that they typically feature characters in need of conversion and one or two characters tasked with converting them.  Because the Christian message is so subtle in The Silent Gift -- basically boiling down to one word:  love -- it ranks among the best books I've ever read in the genre.

Click here to read an excerpt from The Silent Gift.

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of The Silent Gift from Edify Media for review purposes.


Ladytink_534 said...

This reminds me of something but I can't for the life of me remember what it is. Sounds like an interesting story though and I'm curious about how well the 1930s is represented too.

Serena said...

After listening to you talk about the book, I'm not sure this one is for me, but I might give it a try at some point.

bermudaonion said...

Wow! I know Marcia liked this one too. Between the two of you, you've made me want to read it, even though I don't typically read Christian fiction either.

Carrie said...

I ADORED this book! =) I thought it was awesome, awesome, awesome and ranked as a favorite for 2009. Glad to know you liked it also!

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) said...

Hi Anna! Happy New Year to you! I've been absent for a while, but I'm back and wanted to thank you for stopping by the other day.

This book sounds amazing and I am definitely going to keep my eye out for it. You're review was awesome, but the way!

Toni said...

Wow.. this sounds really amazing. I'd give it a try based on what I am hearing about it.

Anna said...

~Ladytink: Well, I think the setting of the Great Depression is important to truly understand how desperate Mary's situation is, how simple her life is. I think they accomplished that.

~Serena: I still think you'd like it. LOL

~bermudaonion: I'm picky with Christian fiction, and I couldn't read this one fast enough!

~Carrie: I'm glad to hear that. It deserves a high rating.

~Lisa: Thanks very much! Hope you get a chance to read it.

~Toni: I hope you do give it a try, and I hope you like it as much as I did.