Chip Crockett’s Christmas Carol by Elizabeth Hand

ChipChip Crockett’s Christmas Carol by Elizabeth Hand

Description from Goodreads

The father of an autistic child dreams of a Christmas miracle in this moving short novel nominated for the World Fantasy Award—proceeds to be donated to Autism Speaks

When Brendan touches his four-year-old son, Peter screams and pulls away. He suffers from a form of autism known as Pervasive Developmental Disorder and has no idea how much his father wants to make him smile. Their relationship is tortured, but Christmas is coming, and a miracle might come with it.

An unlikely harbinger of the holidays arrives in the form of Tony Kemper, Brendan’s childhood friend who’s never quite gotten over his glory days as a 1970s punk sensation. Broke, unemployed, and homeless, Tony has recently become obsessed with the long-canceled Chip Crockett television show, a beloved memory from when they were kids. Not a minute of footage remains of Chip, but these three boys are about to discover that when an entertainer is truly great, his magic will last forever.

Previously serialized online, this is the first time Chip Crockett’s Christmas Carol has been published in ebook form. Elizabeth Hand will donate all proceeds from this book to Autism Speaks in honor of special education teacher Anne Marie Murphy, who was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. The two attended the same high school, where Murphy was a friend of Hand’s younger sister

I gave this book four stars out of five

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. It was a relatively short story and a great read.

I loved reading about the relationship between the three friends Brendan, Tony and Kevin, and about the different paths that life had led them along. The story was mainly about how Brendan dealt with being a single parent with an autistic son.

I felt that the main thrust of the story was how Brendan struggled to come to terms with, and deal with, the changes that he had seen in his son at an early age. How it had affected his view of Christmas, and how childhood memories of a tv show, and the influence of one of his oldest friends, helped him to rediscover the joy of Christmas and reconnect with his son.

It was interesting to gain a view of the life of a single parent with an autistic child. How important things like routine and familiarity can be to them. I was also fascinated by the way that Tony, the ex punk rock musician, bonded with Peter, in particular, over Tony’s obsession with a childhood tv show and its presenter.

It was nice to see how much these memories of a childhood tv show can mean to some people. How they can evoke memories of times gone by, happier, simpler times. Just the simple act of hearing the opening theme song is often sufficient to prompt a barrage of mental images. I am sure that many of us can identify with that.

This story is obviously influenced by Dicken’s Christmas Carol, but also by the authors own memories of childhood television shows and of discovering punk rock.

I would certainly recommend this book to anyone wanting a holiday story that is considerably more real than a lot of the mushy, over the top happy offerings that one usually comes across at this time of year. Also, don’t forget that the author, Elizabeth Hand, is donating all proceeds from this book to Autism Speaks, which is pretty cool.

This review was based on a review copy provided by Netgalley and the publisher Open Road Media.

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