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Julie’s Book Review: The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle by Joanne Huist Smith


Reviewed by Julie Failla Earhart

The holiday season starts at Halloween at my house. It’s time to get busy and get everything done. So when this little book crossed my lap, I thought I’d get a jump on getting in the spirit. I like uplifting holiday stories, and this is one to tug at the heart strings.

In September 1999, Joanne’s husband Rick was having heart problems. He needed surgery. But he decided that he wanted to wait until closer to the holidays so that he could recuperate while the kids were on holiday break. Unfortunately, Rick’s heart had other ideas, and on October 8, he died at home.

The story starts twelve days before Christmas.  Jo and the kids—Ben, seventeen; Nick, twelve, and Megan, ten—aren’t doing too well.  They don’t want to face the holidays. It’s twelve days before Christmas and Jo hasn’t given it a single thought, other than pulling the covers over her head and hope it passes quickly.

On evening, a poinsettia arrives on their doorstep. No one saw anyone out it there, but there was a card:

On the first day of Christmas

Your true friends give to you

One poinsettia for all of you.


It seemed to help, some. The flower’s arrival gave Megan the courage to hint about a tree and presents.

What follows is Secret Santa in the best sense of the word. Little gifts began arriving, anonymously of course, and no one can catch the giver in the act. None of the gifts are expensive, but they are life-changing. Soon, the shattered family starts to work their way out of their crippling grief.

Grab a box of tissues with this one!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

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