Tuesday, December 2, 2014

30 Days of Christmas - Day One - Matches: A Christmas Story by Rick R. Reed

Yes, I took the easy way out for today's book, choosing one that is only seventeen pages long, but the idea for this theme hit me late last night, and I hadn't even seen that there was any interest in it until this evening, so I didn't prepare very well. Anyway, on with the program.

Genre: Holiday Romance
Published: December 7, 2011

A poignant gay twist on the beloved Hans Christian Andersen classic, "The Little Match Girl"... 

Christmas Eve should be a night filled with magic and love. But for Anderson, down on his luck and homeless in Chicago's frigid chill, it's a fight for survival. Whether he's sleeping on the el, or holed up in an abandoned car, all he really has are his memories to keep him warm: memories of a time when he loved a man named Welk and the world was perfect. When Anderson finds a book of discarded matches on the sidewalk, he pockets them. Later, trying to keep the cold at bay hunkered down in a church entryway, Anderson discovers the matches are the key to bringing his memories of Welk, happiness, and security to life. Within their flames, visions dance and perhaps a reunion with the man he loved most.


As one Amazon reviewer stated, this book is exactly what the synopsis says it is. I even used the word "poignant" in my Amazon and Goodreads review, without remembering that it was in the synopsis (because I wrote the review on my Kindle). 

Based on the first line of the synopsis (which is all I actually read before starting the book), I was expecting an M/M erotic parody of "The Little Match Girl" and I was honestly a little intrigued to see how a person would pull that off, but not getting my hopes up for a brilliant touching story. I was thankfully let down for all of my expectations. I was immediately pulled into this story by the detailed descriptions to an extent that I was so annoyed by the pinging announcing new chat messages on Facebook from my computer that I muted it. I felt I was able to empathize with Anderson's plight in spite of never being in his shoes. 

Outfitted with a sleeping bag he had found in a dumpster in 
an alley off Clark Street, the automotive residence was almost 
palatial for Anderson, who had grown accustomed to 
shivering in doorways throughout Chicago's arctic winter nights, 
warmed by cardboard and newspapers.

For a bleeding heart liberal like myself, this book spoke to my "political" side as well. You don't have to go very far to find conservatives railing against the "moochers" in our society, living off the government while not even trying to find work, or liberals advocating even more assistance for the less fortunate than what is currently available. This story made me think of those articles and discussion threads, highlighting a point that I think many people, myself included, don't consider about the currently jobless in our country.

It was a lousy way to live, made more disheartening by the fact 
that the longer he stayed out here on the streets, the harder it would 
be to ever get back in, where life was comfortable and warm, 
where there was enough food to eat, and a roof over one's head to 
keep one dry and to protect a person from a whole host of maladies 
awaiting those who no longer had a place to call home.

Very few, if any, people choose to be homeless, but once they are, it becomes almost impossible to rise up from that. Can you even imagine what that must feel like? I can, because of Mr. Reed's vivid descriptions. 

My complaints about the story are minor and insignificant. There were a few typos, and for a story of only seventeen pages, I would personally only find one acceptable. I also don't really feel like it belongs in the romance genre. I expect a romance to make me feel at least a little giddy, and this story did not do that (although that may be partially because I had a decent idea of how it would end). But the romance was also not really a big factor throughout most of the story. We saw a couple memories of Anderson's life with Welk, but that was it. Maybe I'm being a little too picky. 

Overall I give this story 4 out of 5 stars for pulling me straight into the story, making me think a little, and making me live in the shoes of a homeless person for about twenty minutes. If you're looking for an erotic M/M story, don't pick up this book, but if you want a story that will make you think, and make you thankful for what you have, this would be a great book for you. - Katie 

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