Mr. Dalton's Christmas
by Robert A. Valle

"...sometimes our gifts can be used for much more."

The author of this unique Christmas tale sets the stage nicely, painting Dalton as a hard-working assistant manager at Macy's with a routine life. Dalton is frozen in time after recovering from an accident that took his wife and ruined his physically demanding stage career almost a decade earlier. Through Valle's artful character development, readers are soon cheering for Dalton to come out of his shell and reinvent himself. He does. But, did he dream this inspiration, did it happen from his own depths of inner strength, or is it all divine intervention? Readers get to decide for themselves as Valle masterfully leaves it open-ended.

Effective foreshadowing is difficult for authors to pull off successfully, but Valle nails it here, too. For example, readers might hope for a romance between Dalton and his co-worker, Maria Esperanza. Therefore, Valle expertly writes, "She rubbed her eyes, picked up the device and read the message. A smile crossed her face as she rose and headed for bed."

Maybe what the story does best is describe how it is both possible and even necessary to make changes in pursuit of happiness sometimes. Valle writes about the strength of loyal friendships and reentry after suffering. This touching novel is about resilience and personal strength, and, for some, more strength than one may realize that they have.

Sometimes Christmas stories aren't just for Christmas. Valle's novel is a feel-good read, full of hope and emotional energy well spent. It is somewhat of a romance, but squeaky clean, enabling it to be appropriate for a family with preteens, as well.

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