Christmas, when portrayed in books, is usually a backdrop to stories that are meant to evoke a sense of warmth and joy in the reader. After all, it is the season of good cheer. Winter is harsh, but Christmas lights, the smell of freshly-baked goods, hearty meals, and the comfort of your home, can make you forget all about the cold. That is what most books aim to achieve. They want their reader to be curled up on a couch, sipping a cup of warm cocoa, and turning the pages of a book that makes them smile, even if there is a blizzard outside.

However, ‘Lost Christmas‘ is not one of those books, and that is something you will understand as soon as you take a look at the blurb.

Richard Michael Thornhill, affectionately called Goose, loses his parents on Christmas Eve. A year later, he lives with his grandmother and his pet dog- Mutt. Life hasn’t gone well for him ever since the death of his parents. One day, as though life could not get any worse, his dog goes missing. His quest to find the dog leads him to Anthony, a mysterious man who does not remember his own identity but is gifted with the power of touch to find the things one may have lost. They are accompanied on their journey by Frank, the best friend of Goose‘s dad. Whether Goose finds his dog, Anthony regains his memory or, most importantly, if Goose can be saved, forms the crux of the story. Usually, movies are adapted from books. However, not in this case. The book is based on the screenplay of the movie ‘Lost Christmas‘. I have not watched the movie, so I am not sure to what extent the book mirrors the film, or what extra information it adds. However, I can tell you this – the book was an experience.

Not even 20 pages in, I was weeping like a widow. The author builds this beautiful, wholesome moment, and then it just crashes down as the plot gets underway. I should have known, at that very moment, that I was in the company of a brilliant writer. David Logan writes in a way that is so welcoming to readers of all ages. His writing is easy to read and understand, and it tugs your heartstrings. The world of ‘Lost Christmas‘ is not the easiest for a reader to digest. Which, to be fair, should have been expected as loss is the main theme of the book. However, it still draws you in. It makes you forget about the ticking of time. You turn the pages, without realizing you are doing so because you are so engrossed in the tale. This isn’t so much a journey for GooseAnthony and Frank. It is a journey for you, the reader, too.

Everyone has lost something or someone. How utterly wonderful it would be, if someone could come back and tell you what happened or help you find what you had lost. Of course, realistically, it is impossible, but the sentiment is still there. That is what makes this book so special. It speaks to you. You may not agree with some of the things Goose or the other characters do, but you still want to root for them. You want them to find what they had lost. You want them to find happiness. You want them to find solace.

A brilliant example of David Logan’s magic with words is the scene at the canal. You know what is coming. It is absolutely awful and heartbreaking. However, you don’t know how it happens. He doesn’t give the scene away at all. He makes you completely engrossed in the story and the events taking place. Emotions ride high. You feel like you are right there, in the midst of the flurry, and he keep you on your toes, wondering when something is going to happen. The best or maybe the worst part is that, even though you know there is no happy ending in that scene, you still wish, with every fibre of your being, that something changes. And that is the sign of a truly wonderful writer.

It has to be noted, before you think this book will only make you sob like a baby, that there is humour in the book. There are jokes and light-hearted moments. The scene with the turkey and the washing machine is really funny, and so is the one at the pawn shop. Anthony is a sweet character, and his tendency to sprout random trivia can bring a smile to your face. However, the book, as a whole, mostly pulls your heartstrings. Whether it be the moments which make you shed a tear, or the ones that fill your heart with warmth.

The author has also clearly put effort into creating the supporting characters. Yes, this is Goose‘s story, but the way he is connected to so many others, and how they live or try to live, is so beautifully written. This includes the grandmother, who just wants to be there for her grandson but her Alzheimer’s doesn’t allow her to do so, the husband and wife whose lives have completely fallen apart after the loss of their child, the Indian woman who loses her bangle which was symbolic of her marriage and love for her dead husband, and the uncle who wants to fix his marriage and live happily once again. You feel for them as much as you feel for Goose and Anthony.

Something truly wonderful about the book is that nearly all the characters and their stories interconnect and cross paths in a way you would never imagine them to. Yes, the theme of loss connects them all, but there is more to it than just that. The book suggests that, to find what you lost, you need to help others find theirs. Anthony, a character who lost his memories, believes that everyone is connected by the things they lost. Therefore, you need to help others so that you can be helped. This message is fitting for, not just Christmas, but life in general. As societies become more individualistic, you tend to stop caring about others. If you are on your vehicle and you see a little boy searching for his dog, will you help him? Will you put your hand into a gutter to retrieve a bangle for an old lady? And if you don’t, will someone else do it? Or will they also wait for someone else to go and help? There is a need for people to think beyond themselves and provide help when needed. The book does not get preachy with the message, which is something I admire. The author chose to make you think in a subtle way, rather than make it blatant.

It is also important to note that the author showed different ways people cope with loss and how they grieve. From Goose denying his emotions and redirecting the frustration and grief towards dishonest practices, Helen hallucinating about her little girl and dealing with the pain and guilt, to Henry who pours all his hurt into work and refuses to confront his emotions. The feeling of loss is the same, but the ways they cope are different. In real life, people do not cope the same way. Not everyone cries and moves on. However, society encourages them to do just that. Many people tend to tell those who are dealing with loss to behave a certain way or to move on after a bit of time has passed. However, that is a terrible piece of advice, even if it is meant well. Feelings are complicated and people are complicated. How a person grieves, and the amount of time they need to do that, is for them to decide. What others can do is help or just be there for the person.

The book also provides some valuable insight to the other side of the care system. Goose is a child, living with a grandmother who is increasingly becoming incapable of caring for him. However, that is still home to him. He finds security and comfort in the situation, especially as she is the only living family member left. The situation does require the intervention of Child Protective Services, as she cannot care for him, let alone care for herself. However, there is a way of doing it. Child Protective Services (CPS) sees the bigger picture of the situation and intends to help children. However, if they truly wish to help, they need to approach the situation with tact. They need to listen to the child and quell their worries. They need to make them come to understand that foster care is the right solution. They can’t just walk in and uproot them. There are many cases where CPS have gotten child removal wrong, or they did more damage than good. So I am glad the author chose to shine a torch on the topic. It should be mentioned that the CPS were not portrayed as antagonists. You do understand their reasoning, and their concern is legitimate. However, the situation is complicated and child removal is not going to do any good.

As much as I loved the book, it did have a few flaws. Some of the characters didn’t really have any presence in the rest of the story, which makes you wonder if they could have been removed entirely. Moreover, some scenes seemed a bit dragged out. In one scene, I think all readers would have arrived at the big eureka moment before the protagonist did, as he was super slow at coming to that realization himself and putting the pieces together. This in my opinion, reduced the impact of that scene to an extent. Also, another issue I noticed was a few spelling errors. This is not the author’s fault but the editor’s. However, if they publish a new print of the books, I wish they will correct these spelling errors.

It has to be said that the ending was mostly not what I expected, and the book does not try to give any explanations as to why it happens. Sometimes, I guess we just need to accept a little bit of magic and not try to find the logic or reasoning behind it. I did have a lot of ideas about who Anthony might be, and a small fleeting one turned out to be true. However, I was still really pleased with it. Moreover, the twists took me completely by surprise, but it also tied the tale so well. I am not even ashamed to say that, when I read the ending, I cried. Now, was it tears of joy or sadness? That is for you to find out.

As a whole, ‘Lost Christmas‘ is a book that stays with you. It is heart-wrenching but also heartwarming. While the target audiences are children and teenagers, I would still recommend everyone to give it a read. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, you can still check the book out. Christmas mostly forms the backdrop to the tale. The tale, itself, is really thought provoking and beautiful to behold.

Genre: Drama/ Fantasy
Plot: 9/10
Setting: 8/10
Characters: 7.5/10
Theme: 9/10
Writing Style: 9/10

Overall: 8.5/10