In Beck's debut novel, the conservative radio and TV host (An Inconvenient Book) makes a weak attempt at a holiday classic in the vein of It's a Wonderful Life. Despite his single mother's financial hardships, 12-year-old Eddie is certain this Christmas he will receive his much-desired Huffy bike. To his dismay, what he finds under the tree is ""a stupid, handmade, ugly sweater"" that his mother carefully modeled after those she can't afford at Sears (one of four places she keeps part-time jobs). Eddie tosses the sweater and insults his mother before the two go visit his grandparents at their farmouse. On the drive home, though, Eddie's exhausted mother falls asleep at the wheel and crashes, dying instantly. Sent to live with his grandparents, an increasingly bitter and angry Eddie lashes out at his accommodating guardians, engages in typical teenage angst and grapples with belief in God. For all his focus on traditional family virtues like respect, love and forgiveness, Beck's lightweight parable cruises on predictability, repetition and sentimentality.
Reviewed on: 11/10/2008 Release date: 11/01/2008 Genre: Fiction