Over the Holidays
Sandra Harper

Pocket Books
Trade Paperback/336 pages
ISBN: 9781439158708
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". . . not your usual holiday story . . ."

Vanessa wants to stay home this year for Christmas and not visit her husband’s brother on the east coast. She doesn’t mind her brother-in-law, but she could live without seeing her sister-in-law Patience. Her husband’s sporadic working means they don’t have enough money for the airfare to take her, her husband and her twin boys across the country. Patience is planning her famous “open house” as she does every year, but one phone call to Vanessa changes everything in a few minutes. What would it be like to celebrate Christmas without an open house? Could Vanessa plan and execute her own Christmas celebration for the first time?

Thea, on the other hand, feels empty and would love a man with substance instead of the superficial relationships she has been indulging in over the years. She is only thinking about how she can get through the holidays this year.

As the holidays get closer, each woman must cope with a change in her usual holiday routine. Vanessa, suddenly stuck with preparing for the arrival of her east coast relatives, is also involved in doctoring a script done by a reclusive playwright. When her husband suddenly gets a job a few weeks before Christmas, Vanessa panics. How will she entertain everyone and get everything done? As the holidays draw near she wonders if maybe she has bitten off more than she can chew. The arrival of Patience, her husband, and their teenage daughter Libby, eager for a west coast adventure, brings everything in the lives of Vanessa, Patience and Thea to a head.

Though it seems to be a story involving typical stereotypes, this novel defies these assumptions. Told in the point of view of each of the three women, Sandra Harper infuses each woman with a unique personality that elevates this tale above the norm. This is not your usual holiday story, and Vanessa, Patience, and Thea are not ordinary women. Each woman is searching for something they may or not find over the holidays. As the Rolling Stones song says: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.” The characters in Over the Holidays must make decisions controlled by the circumstances in which they find themselves. All of this makes for a great read at any time of the year.

Reviewer: Barbara Ehrentreu