Rosemary and Eugene Johnson seem to have the perfect life, but the Christmas season serves as a stark reminder that their house is empty of the children they’ve always wanted. This year, their world is further rocked by news that Rosemary will have to undergo emergency surgery. Eugene just wishes he could do something—anything—to make her recuperation easier. So when he suddenly remembers Ethel Perkins, the woman who practically raised him, he reaches out to discover what she’s been doing all these years. He finds the same hardworking, determined woman from his youth, though maybe a little more tired than he remembers. But then, she is balancing work with raising a group of grandchildren … While Ethel looks at the offer to take care of Rosemary as a blessing, both families have the chance to offer something miraculous to the other.
Christmas is supposed to be a joyous time for those celebrating, and yet everything seems to be going wrong for Rosemary. Unexpected surgery. A long recuperation. A business to run. As a driven woman, she’s unaccustomed to slowing down, and these early sections where author Mary Monroe explores her trauma are painful to read. However, this serves as a reminder that sometimes everyone needs a little help and it can come in the most unexpected forms.
This is where Monroe is able to really work her bookish charm. In the middle of so much confusion and pain, she’s able to weave in a heartwarming story of family. As soon as Ethel, full of fire and spirit, is introduced into her life, Rosemary not only gets a caregiver, but access to the kind of family she’s always wanted. It’s lovely reading as these two groups—the Johnson along with Ethel and her grandchildren—becomes acclimated to each other, slowly filling the needs that each of them have.
But not everything is all bows and candy canes. Ethel’s grandchildren are sweet without ever becoming overly saccharine, though they’re working through their own problems. As well, Ethel herself struggles under the burden of caring for everyone around her. Monroe doesn’t shy away from the complications of life and, while there’s a tidiness to her plotting, everything evolves into a natural conclusion.
Ultimately, The Gift of Family is a light, cozy read—a perfect addition to Monroe’s impressive library.
Note: I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.