This is a beautiful short story that reminds us all that Christmas can be really challenging for those who have lost loved ones and miss them terribly. By sharing Julie’s thoughts and feelings, the author positions the reader to empathise with her and forces them to consider the power that grief and loss can have at Christmas, especially when other people are so cheerful.
Even stronger, though, are the power and the warmth of the love and the words that bring healing to Julie’s heart.
Full of love and Christmas spirit, this is a story that would suit both individuals and families at any time of year, but especially during December.
This is a quite a wistful and quirky read on one hand, yet quite dark and confronting on the other.
A deep sense of irony pervades the story and highlights the tragedy of the backstory which Roger reveals to Emma when she meets him at their old school. It is certainly thought-provoking about what comes after death and the likelihood that the spirit world could exist right alongside, or even intersect with, our own.
The raw reality of suicide and the jolting power of grief and survivor’s guilt are treated with sensitivity and empathy, and the story cleverly positions the reader to understand the perspectives of both Roger and Emma, and other people known to them both, as they share their experiences.
This story may be personally challenging to those who have lost friends or loved ones to suicide, but it may also offer some reassurance and objectivity through the different perspectives of the characters.
It is a testament to the skill of the author that the story is very well balanced and poignant, given its serious and sombre themes.