July 13, 2018

Looking Back - Mr. Ives' Christmas

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Mr. Ives' Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos
1996 Harper Collins (first published in 1995)
Finished in December 1997
Rating: 2/5 (Fair)

Publisher's Blurb:

Hijuelos' novel tells the story of Mr. Ives, who was adopted from a foundling's home as a child. When we first meet him in the 1950s, Mr. Ives is very much a product of his time. He has a successful career in advertising, a wife and two children, and believes he is on his way to pursuing the typical American dream. But the dream is shattered when his son Robert, who is studying for the priesthood, is killed violently at Christmas. Overwhelmed by grief and threatened by a loss of faith in humankind, Mr. Ives begins to question the very foundations of his life.

Part love story—of a man for his wife, for his children, for God—and part meditation on how a person can find spiritual peace in the midst of crisis, Mr. Ives' Christmas is a beautifully written, tender and passionate story of a man trying to put his life in perspective. In the expert hands of Oscar Hijuelos, the novel speaks eloquently to the most basic and fulfilling aspects of life for all of us.

My Original Notes (1997):

Fair to mediocre. I never really got into the story or the characters. Didn't hold my attention at all.

My Current Thoughts:

Isn't it funny how you can forget everything about a book, but remember where you were when you read it? We had just put our house on the market and were getting ready to move to Texas. I had recently found an online book group and this was one of the books we chose to read and discuss. I really wanted to enjoy the book and make an intelligent contribution to the discussion, but as I recall, I really didn't care for it at all and had I picked it up on my own, I would have quit after 50 pages (if not sooner!). I wonder if my reaction to this book would be any different, having now experienced my own tragic loss of a child.


  1. Your reading of this book might be different now, possibly. Or it might just not be a good connection. Isn't it interesting how most of us struggle with quitting books that we are reading for book group? I always encourage the mystery group members to move on if it isn't working for them. I even do it myself at times when I'm the one who picks the books. It's good for them to see me do it too. Of course, there are a few who soldier on, but in my mind, it's unnecessary. I'm just as interested to hear why it didn't work for them.

    1. Kay, I think I would have a completely different reaction to this novel if I read it now, but I just don't have any interest in it, so I won't bother trying to track it down. With regard to book club selections, I am not as strict with myself to finish something I'm not enjoying. If I'm not hooked by page 80, that's it. And if it's really not something I'm interested in, I may pass on it altogether. I do try to give all the selections a chance, but not if it's a book by an author I know I don't care for.


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