Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 30-35,000 words
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store
A lawyer and CPA, author Scott Roloff lives with his family in Texas. He also has a novel, Dreams of Dusk, and a small short story collection, Short Stories for the Hopeful and the Weary, available.
“The Innkeeper of Bethlehem will permit you and your family to enjoy Santa Claus and the other secular customs of Christmas within the Christian celebration of Jesus’s birth. For little children, Santa Claus becomes a real person delivering presents to them from Jesus. Each Christmas season, reading a chapter a night will become a holiday tradition for the entire family.”
This book is designed to be read a chapter each night starting on December 6th and finishing on Christmas Eve. Although you can certainly read it alone and don’t have to spread it out in the lead up to Christmas, it is especially suited for a parent or older child to read it aloud for younger children. The sentences tend to be short (ideal for not running out of breath reading aloud), but it uses some words that wouldn’t be in the reading vocabulary of younger children.
There are two story arcs, interleaved together. One, the story of a family who is sitting down each night, being told a story by Uncle Aaron. The other, the story he’s telling. It felt like each chapter had a life lesson that would be beneficial to a child. I could imagine each chapter could generate a discussion about what might be learned from that evening’s reading.
The majority of the book is roughly based on the life of Jesus as commonly told, with a lot of additional story added by the author. The last few chapters introduce Santa Claus and integrates the typical elements of the Santa myth into the story of Jesus. All the pieces fit and I like the life lessons that are part of the story. For families who are the logical target readers for this book, I’d say go for it. There’s the rub. I struggle to imagine who those readers might be.
If I imagine the spectrum of possible beliefs and how someone at different points on this spectrum might react, striking off those who would object to something in this story, I’m not sure how much is left. Non-believers, whether atheist or believers in a non-Christian religion, are out. In spite of the secular Santa Claus getting a visible mention in the title, this is definitely a Christian book. Those on the other end of the spectrum who believe Jesus was a real person and that The Bible is literal, I imagine having issues with mixing too much “fiction” in with what they consider truth, for fear of confusing their children as to which is which. I’d expect even a decent portion of those Christians who consider the story of Jesus a myth rather than literal will have concerns mixing the traditional part of this story with the new parts. For those who aren’t concerned, this may be the book for you.
A small number of typos and proofing errors.
Rating: **** Four stars