Angels & Other Strangers: Family Christmas Stories
Angels and Other Strangers
Katherine Paterson
ISBN 9780060783761
HarperCollins, 1979.
4 ½ stars
Keywords: angels-other-family-christmas-stories christmas faith family katherine-paterson

Angels & Other Strangers: Family Christmas Stories
by Katherine Paterson

The best stories unlock the truth. Sometimes that truth can involve pain, but it moves the characters (and us) to a higher understanding. That’s what the nine stories in Katherine Paterson’s Angels & Other Strangers do. In the title story, the mother must confront bigotry within herself. The mother in “Tidings of Joy” gets angry at God for doing something she finds unforgivable—the loss of her baby in childbirth—then finds evidence of God’s neglect everywhere. Often the children and teens in these stories show the adults that faith and hope abide in the world and bring about the change in the grown-ups’ hardened hearts. Pastor Nagai in “Guests” preaches sermons in a Christian church in Japan even though he risks persecution for believing in something the government forbids, a theme Katherine Paterson also explores in her book The Day of the Pelican.

And in some of these stories, the children experience the change of heart, such as Elizabeth in “Many Happy Reruns” and Genevieve in “Maggie’s Gift” (a play on gift of the Magi, perhaps?), both of whom share a rebellious spirit with Paterson’s 1979 Newbery Honor and National Book Award–winning The Great Gilly Hopkins. Most of all, these stories demonstrate that sometimes in the darkest moments we find hope, and that small acts of kindness often make the biggest impact.

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