Xenia Daily Gazette
CEDARVILLE — In a society where families are seemingly pulled apart on a daily basis, it’s encouraging to read stories of healthy family relationships. Perhaps, there’s no better time to hear of these stories than at Christmas.
So, when New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Donna VanLiere — a 1989 Cedarville University graduate — began work on her latest book, “The Christmas Town,” bringing family back into Christmas was her theme. It was obvious especially since five of her holiday books, “The Christmas Shoes,” “The Christmas Blessing,” “The Christmas Hope,” “The Christmas Secret,” and “The Christmas Note” all became best-sellers and were made into high-profile movies.
“The Christmas Town” was released Oct. 18 by St. Martin’s Press and in it, VanLiere weaves messages of love, hope and family into the heart-warming story — perfect storylines for the holiday season.
“Christmas is not a season of joy for many people, and those people can sometimes view Christmas as being for those who have it all together, whose lives are picture-perfect,” said VanLiere, describing why she has focused on writing Christmas-themed books. “Christmas is for the broken and the brokenhearted. It’s for the prodigal, the lonely, the desperate and the hopeless, and I try to write about real-life situations that are infused with hope and grace.”
VanLiere believes her books can be a way for people to see hope and grace exists, even if a person’s life doesn’t appear to be “all together.” She will speak in chapel at Cedarville Monday, Nov. 14. At this event, which is open to the public, VanLiere will share her experiences, including her love of sharing hope to people through her writing.
“Grace is always within reach; our problem is that we often don’t recognize it or reach out for it,” VanLiere said. “My goal (in writing books) is to help the reader identify with characters and circumstances that the characters find themselves in. I always want to present real-life situations, stories that prove that life is hard but also prove that hope is alive!”
In “The Christmas Town,” VanLiere tells the story of Lauren Gabriel, who spent much of her childhood living in foster homes. Even after more than a decade apart from her mother, Gabriel never loses her desire to be reunited with family. Being home at Christmas would be the perfect gift for her.
“Although Lauren has been with some good families along the way, she has never felt part of a family,” VanLiere said of the main character in the book. “As the story unfolds, it’s my desire for the reader to know that long after we’ve given up, God is still working in our lives.” This young girl who has struggled all her life for that place of belonging will feel a love she’s never experienced before. The sense of belonging and being loved is what so many are desperate for today.”
Content provided by Cedarville University.