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204. Over the Holidays by Sandra Harper...

November 14, 2009
over the holidaysAbout the book:
The best holiday traditions are meant to be broken.

It's only December 1, and Vanessa Clayton has been dreading Christmas since she spotted tinseled trees at her local mall in September. Thankfully, she and her husband, JT, can't afford to drag their twin boys across the country to New England for the annual celebration at her stuffy sister-in-law Patience's home. Not that Vanessa has prepared a proper Christmas for her family in years, and she has less time than ever since she agreed to consult on the script of a local play. Her older sister, Thea, is no help -- she'd rather make art and flirt with surfers than babysit her nine-year-old nephews. Then Patience drops a holiday stress bomb: Her family will come to California instead.

In between "baking" cinnamon rolls for the school potluck and overbearing Patience testing her patience, Vanessa can't stop thinking about the difficult but charming playwright at work. Meanwhile, Patience's teenage daughter, Libby, obsesses over a college boy she has met by the pool, and Thea searches desperately for the meaning of Christmas -- for her latest installation, of course. As their holiday plans go comically awry, these four women discover the true spirit of the season is hidden in every festive surprise.

drey's thoughts:
Over the Holidays is a pretty apt read this time of year, I think. It's when we start thinking of (& sometimes, prepping for) the holidays--get the card list, buy the cards, take pictures to send with the cards, fill 'em out, work on a gift list, start shopping, get plans firmed up, guest lists put together, menus planned, etc. etc. etc. I don't know about you, but I know that I am usually quite ready for it to be all over before the middle of the month.

Vanessa seems to feel the same way I do. Her husband has employment issues, and money troubles are the least of their worries when she has to navigate the complex tides that are family relationships. The jockeying for who gets to "host". The subtle digs at whether you're doing things right. The pressure to prepare for last-minute plans to have her husband's family over, while he's out of town on a temporary job. And the stress of managing a temperamental writer's updates and her children's schedules. All combine to basically drive her nuts.

Ok, maybe nuts is an exaggeration. But Vanessa is carrying a lot on her shoulders. And when that writer shows an interest in her, she's flattered. But is she flattered enough to risk everything she has for a flattering interest?

I like Vanessa. Throw in the cast of characters that's in Over the Holidays, and you have an introspective look at the current state of the holidays and what it does to our relationships and our psyche.

Title: Over the Holidays
Author: Sandra Harper
ISBN-10: 1439158703
ISBN-13: 9781439158708
Paperback: 325 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Disclosure: My copy of Over the Holidays was provided by Pocket Books for a blog tour on Oct. 23.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Just me, dropping in to say hi. I realized I didn't have you in the Win a Book sidebar, so I fixed that.

bermudaonion said...

This sounds like the perfect book for this time of year. I've looked at it a couple times - it sounds like I need to pick it up.

drey said...

Susan, you're a peach, always.

Kathy ~ Do you want my copy?

Gwendolyn B. said...

I liked this book too. There was a little too much swearing for my taste, but overall I thought it was a fun distraction.

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