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'Christmas Notes' tells story of a small orphan girl's gift to change lives with her one-word notes

By Stephanie Abney

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Dec. 1 2011 7:02 p.m. MST

"CHRISTMAS NOTES," by Clint G. Cox, American Book Publishing, $18, 165 pages (f) (ages 16 and up)

In his debut novel, Mormon author Clint G. Cox weaves a charming and uplifting tale with “Christmas Notes.” This story of triumph over tragedy and adversity is well-written, despite some predictability. It is a satisfying read that reminds us about the importance of forgiveness, hope and charity.

Max Fox is discouraged. He has alienated his parents. Sure that his last transaction destroyed his father’s business, he resigned from the company and severed all ties with his dad. He was downsized from his last job and his wife, Jenny, is working long hours at the hospital. Despite his best efforts, he hasn’t found work and he sees no joy in the upcoming Christmas season.

Last year, Max and Jenny went to the local orphanage to enroll in a program that gives month-long holiday visits for an orphan child to local homes. Unable to have their own children, the couple thought this would help to brighten the holidays. Little did they know it took a year to be approved and they went home alone. Now, a year later, Max receives a call that they have been approved but he’s apprehensive since things have been going so badly.

Max and Jenny are assigned to Seanna, a precocious, but nonverbal, 5-year-old. With Jenny working and Max unemployed, he will be the one to care for her and he feels totally unprepared. Little does he know that Seanna, who communicates with one-word notes, is about to change his heart, one note at a time.

Cox is a full-time plumber who has battled dyslexia and enjoys telling stories to his daughters and others. His website is christmasnotes.org.

Stephanie Abney, a retired teacher and freelance writer, lives in Mesa, Ariz., with her husband, Jim. They have five children and 17 grandchildren. Her email is sabneyfeedback@cox.net and she blogs at stephaniesaysso.blogspot.com.

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