Karen Kingsbury has found a formula for success before --- that's why she has over a million and a half books in print --- and she has definitely found it again in her Red Gloves series, of which the newest title is SARAH'S SONG. The red gloves, she explains on her website (www.karenkingsbury.com), symbolize red because "red is the color of Christ's love at Christmastime, a season of giving.
The first books in the Red Gloves series were also alliterative: MAGGIE'S MIRACLE and GIDEON'S GIFT, making SARAH'S SONG seem somewhat sensible. (Oops, I got carried away…) Eighty-six-year-old Sarah Lindeman begins her annual Christmas ritual of placing twelve handmade paper ornaments on a small plastic tree, and hopes that as she works her way through her personal "twelve days of Christmas" (the twelve days before December 25, for Sarah), that she will be able to reach out, through her song and her story, to someone in need.
At first Sarah believes that Beth Baldwin, the young married nurse on her floor, will not be the person she reaches. But as Sarah's ornament days progress and she finds herself in the thick of old and painful memories, Beth finds herself in the midst of domestic chaos and marital trauma. The beautiful and meaningful song that Sarah herself wrote and sings on each day of her ritual winds its way into Beth's heart and mind until she finds herself asking Sarah for counsel.
Sarah eagerly shares the story of her paper decorations, each of which has a name ("Excitement," "Rebellion") representing an action or period in Sarah's story of finding love. A naturally talented singer, Sarah had longed as a young woman to "make it" in Nashville. But when she leaves her tiny hometown for that city, she finds that the road to stardom is paved with roadblocks.
And roadblocks are what Sarah's song is all about. Beth listens towards the end of the twelve days as Sarah tells a hard tale about believing that she had lost everything --- and therefore turning her life and story over to God. '''…finally one Sunday I took the situation to God.' Beth's eyes were wide; she looked like she wouldn't have moved from her chair for anything in the world. 'And?' Sarah smiled, slow and full. 'He gave me my song.'"
Beth, torn about her marriage, eagerly awaits the next installment of Sarah's story and song, but before Sarah is finished, a crisis occurs that means she may not be able to do so. Will she release "the secret of love" to Beth? And what role do the red gloves play in this story? The answers are all there --- and so is a warm, meaningful Christmas story that has little of the frippery and ornamentation of most commercial fiction published at this time of year.
Reviewed by Bethanne Kelly Patrick on September 20, 2004