Andrew H. Vachss, Author . Knopf $13.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-375-41487-9

Kingsbury (A Treasury of Christmas Miracles) tugs at the heartstrings in her modern-day Christmas parable. A homeless man named Earl Badgett loses his last connection to his dead wife and daughter when a pair of red gloves are stolen from his makeshift shelter in Portland, Ore. In a seemingly unrelated incident, a terminally ill eight-year-old girl named Gideon Mercer tries to cheer up Badgett when she serves him dinner at a mission, but he cruelly rejects the girl, not knowing that she has leukemia. The determined Gideon convinces her father, a lumber mill worker who has been forced into poverty by a recent layoff, to buy a token gift for the homeless man after her cancer goes into remission, but when she approaches Badgett with the gift he refuses to open it and berates her for her naïve behavior. Gideon is heartbroken after this rejection, and her family is even more bereft when her cancer reappears and begins to advance. The girl's last hope for salvation is an expensive bone marrow transplant that her father can't afford, until Badgett finally makes an abrupt, generous turnaround. Kingsbury keeps her prose style economical and sleek throughout the narrative, and she steers clear of the temptation to get too sentimental, even when Badgett goes through his revelatory transformation. Parts of that transformation strain the bounds of credibility, but the authenticity of Kingsbury's holiday goodwill makes this a feel-good winner. (Oct. 10)

Forecast:Kingsbury's reputation and an extensive advertising and marketing campaign should help this book and its inspirational message land in plenty of stockings this December.

Reviewed on: 09/30/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-4000-3098-9
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Compact Disc - 978-1-4558-1988-1
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