Readers better have their hankies ready for this novel by Baldacci. As family drama goes, it does a good job, but not an excellent one, with sadness that tends to the sappy and a heavy reliance on miraculous transformations.
Jack Armstrong, a 35-year-old war veteran and family man, is terminally ill and vows to see another Christmas with his wife and three children. Then, on Christmas Eve, his wife, Lizzie, dies in a car accident. Weaker each day, he agrees to allow his mother-in-law to split up his children among his wife’s family and to be put into a hospice. Miraculously, Jack recovers and is determined to reclaim his kids and fulfill his wife’s wish to return to “the Palace,” her family home in South Carolina. There, he tries to learn how to be a single parent and love again until his mother-in-law sues for custody of his children. It takes a near-tragedy and “help” from his dead wife to make them all see what is truly important. (GRAND CENTRAL, Jun., 288 pp., $25.99)