I believe wonderful novels should be read all year long–even if they’re holiday related. Tom Leihbacher wrote one such novel A Gift Most Rare . Set in the small village of Briarcliff Manor, close to New York, in the early 1970s, his book warms your heart and convinces you of the inherent kindness of people.
The hero, a young sixth grader named Charlie Riverton, typifies a boy his age. But unlike most of his somewhat rowdy peers, Charlie feels compassion by nature and notices those who are alone or set apart. His acts of kindness set the stage for this endearing novel. I especially liked his befriending a lonely widower.
Boys will be boys, and Charlie and his friends fit the saying. They play soccer and ice skate and get into trouble and begin to pay attention to girls (although they’d deny it if asked).
A stranger comes to town, and, of course, Charlie befriends him. He shows up at unusual times and seems to know what is going to happen. Together they set out to craft a special Christmas for the town, lives are changed, and people look at Christmas a bit differently.
Tom writes the character of Charlie so well, you feel he’s your friend, younger brother, or son. If my daughter were younger, he’s the kind of first boyfriend I’d want for her. You feel his emotions, marvel at his kindness, appreciate his joy. You root for him and his plans all the way through the book. Five stars—a delightful read.
About the Author
Tom Leihbacher, to quote his bio, “grew up in Briarcliff Manor and has lived there for most of his life.” After high school, he attended the University of Florida, then returned home, began a career in media ad sales, married, and became a father. His first novel, A Gift Most Rare, won my heart. The summer sequel should come out later this year.
The author gifted me with a copy of his book but did not obligate me to write a review.