I'm still squeezing in these last few books for the Holiday Reading Challenge! (I've had to abandon the December Author Birthday challenge. Maybe next month!)
I read another Richard Evans book, Finding Noel. His books tend towards the saccharine, I have to say, although this one is not so bad. It's much, much less happy and loving than The Christmas Box. It's the story of two young people, Mark and Macy, who must address their respective pasts if they want to be able to handle the future. And I have to admit, I cried through pretty much the entire book. But I'm sappy and sensitive like that. (Warning: Kinda spoilers after the jump.)
I've had a little bit of dealings with Children's Protective Services in my adult life, first as a relief caregiver at a children's home, and later as a prospective adoptive parent. Usually, the way they are portrayed in the media is unflattering and largely inaccurate. However, Mr. Evans' description of their workings in the 70s is probably spot on (and I would imagine it's from those days that the TV stereotypes come). I'm afraid that stuff like what happened to the Macy and her sister in the book definitely happened, and probably a lot more than is documented, if only because people who come out of bad circumstances tend to become statistics, not writers or filmmakers.
Mark's life, on the other hand, is such a stereotype I had his ending written before I was out of the first chapter. For as much as the story of the sisters is touching, heart-wrenching, and surprising, Mark's story is more or less the opposite. It was very "After-School Special".
I recommend Finding Noel. But I recommend reading it with a tissue handy.