Review: The Noel Diary

Bestselling romance author Jacob Churcher hasn’t been home for almost twenty years—not since his mentally ill mother kicked him out of the house when he was just sixteen. When a lawyer calls, days before Christmas, to inform him that his estranged mother has passed away and left her house to him, Jacob returns not just to settle the estate but to try and reconcile with the past and the pain and abuse he experienced as a child. Also, maybe cleaning out her house will be slightly less depressing than spending the holidays alone, watching re-runs of Christmas classics.

But as it turns out, the house holds more than just difficult memories, Jacob’s mother had become a hoarder and he must excavate through two decades worth of clutter. As Jacob digs through the detritus, like an archaeologist, he uncovers many puzzling items including a diary left by someone named Noel, a young woman he has no recollection of, who stayed with Jacob’s family during her pregnancy. That’s not the only echo from the past. Jacob has an unexpected visitor, Rachel, a woman looking for the mother who put her up for adoption thirty years before. United by their quest to make sense of the past and rewrite their futures, Jacob and Rachel begin a search for Noel. Along the way they find more than they possibly imagined, including grace, forgiveness and a chance at love.

Part of the reason I decided to read this book sooner than later was because of the Netflix movie adaptation (which I still need to watch). As always, Richard Paul Evans brings home another heartwarming story for Christmastime that focuses on a writer who comes to deal with his past after his estranged mother passes away.

As Jacob goes through his childhood home, cleaning out everything his mother has hoarded since he left, he meets Sarah, a young woman looking for her birth mother. Together they find her mother’s diary, as she’d stayed with Jacob’s family when he was a young boy, and they end up trying to find her. It means that Jacob has to confront his father, who’d left when he was a kid, and has to decide whether or not to forgive him.

This book touches a lot on family relationships, mainly strained ones, and how important it is to find forgiveness with those who have hurt you in the past. It’s not only for their benefit, but for yours as well, as bitter feelings can really hold you back, even if you don’t know it. 

This is a very easy read, as Evans’s books typically are, and gives you good feelings and hope when you’ve finished. The personal journey that Jacob and Sarah go on is a good one, though my only issue is how quickly they seem to fall for each other without really knowing one another. But, that’s a minor thing and not really the focus of the story.

While it’s not my favorite Richard Paul Evans book, it’s still a good one and one I’d recommend for anyone looking for a holiday read.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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