Silent Days, Holy Night

Kregel. Oct. 2018. 224p. ISBN 9781683701491. pap. $12.99; ebk. ISBN 9781683701507. CF
Julia Russell first visits Emerald Crest and the mysterious resident of the formerly lively mansion Mr. Lafferty when she is in sixth grade. Her inquisitiveness leads her to the piano with the ivory keys, and she is invited back to play it. Her relationship with the reclusive Mr. Lafferty, who is deaf, blossoms into friendship. Julia learns American Sign Language, how to carve birds, and the fine art of keeping secrets. Her desire to see him smile leads her to write a play to be performed for him at Christmas, involving her parents, her brother, her grandparents, the church choir, and many others. As the day draws near, Julia frets over how receptive Mr. Lafferty will be after 30 years as a recluse. She heard the stories of the tragedy that left him in a wheelchair. Can she convince him to live again and restore the glory that filled Emerald Crest with the Christmas spirit?
VERDICT While tagged as adult fiction, Nichols's novel (Return of the Song; Christmas at Grey Sage) really is well suited for a juvenile audience. Readers will cheer for Julia as she works to reinvigorate the happiness of the holidays for a lonely man.

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