A Christmas of Grace

Fiction - Realistic
178 Pages
Reviewed on 06/18/2013
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Dr. Karen Hutchins Pirnot is a Clinical Psychologist and author. She writes family-friendly books for those from ages two to one hundred and two. She has won multiple awards from Readers Favorite and her books are used at schools, colleges and libraries across the nation.

Dr. Pirnot's book AS I AM was co-authored by Garret Frey, a former patient who struggled to obtain a free public education as a quadriplegic, ventilator-dependent child. He fought through the courts, a battle which ended up before the judges of the US Supreme Court. The judgment in the case is now a hallmark decision affecting thousands of handicapped children across the nation. The 5 book, mid-grade series called Ordinary Kids features various special needs people (children and adults) in everyday situations.

Tapping into her work as a psychologist, Dr. Pirnot puts her characters into realistic but difficult situations and then allows them to dig their way through to successful results. This approach allows both child and adult characters to feel a sense of efficacy in their own abilities.

The autobiography Just A Common Lady details Dr. Pirnot's own struggles as a child. Her mother died at a young age, leaving Dr. Pirnot and her siblings in the care of various family members for years. The lessons she learned from these caretakers undoubtedly influenced her multivariate approach as a practicing psychologist.

Dr. Pirnot may be reached at her website:

    Book Review

Reviewed by Brenda Casto for Readers' Favorite

"A Christmas of Grace" is the story of eleven year old Grace Gillian and her almost six year old brother Henry James. For the Gillian children life had never really been stable. Because of their alcoholic mother, Grace had always been the one to make sure that her little brother always had something to eat. When Grace overhears their landlord telling their mother that they have to vacate the trailer they have been living in within two days, Grace is unsure what they will do, but when she wakes up and learns that her mother has abandoned her she realizes it is up to her to take care of her brother. Since it is Christmas break the only plan she can come up with is for them to stay at the public library. Her greatest fear is that they might be found out and put into the foster care system, but what actually happens when their secret is discovered will change their lives forever.

Dr. Karen Hutchins Pirnot tells a story about two children that seems so realistic that it brought tears to my eyes on several occasions. I could easily imagine that this story could honestly happen in the way that it did! Though Grace is only twelve she seems so much more mature, which is often the case whenever a child finds itself placed in the role of the caregiver to a sibling. Henry James was such a sweet boy, but often exhibited anxiety, because he was never sure what might happen. He really seemed to blossom though once they were in the library, his hunger for learning to read was so touching! Both children were very savvy at coming up with ways to survive for another day. The relationship between the siblings was touching, and really shows what it means to be family. In addition to the author's very realistic portrayal of how alcoholism can affect families, she also touches on several other relevant topics such as race relations, and how children can often tease others that are less fortunate than they are. A touching story that deals with a tough subject that leaves the reader feeling hopeful, and thinking about the characters long after the final page is read! Although this story takes place during Christmas, it would be a great read anytime of the year, as it is filled with several valuable life lessons that would be beneficial for children and adults alike.

Patricia Day

The main characters in the delightful book "A Christmas of Grace" by Dr. Karen Hutchins Pirnot are Grace, an eleven year old girl, and her six year old brother, Henry James. Mature before her time, Grace has been Henry’s guardian more times than she can count. Truth be told, every time their mother drinks too much or brings one more man into their home, Grace is left to tend to her younger brother. One fateful day, the little family is told that the home they cherish will be gone – just before Christmas – leaving them with a dilemma they would rather not have to deal with. Lou Ann, their mother, vanishes – seemingly unable to handle one more struggle – leaving the children to find a way to survive without parental help. How Grace provides a roof over their two little heads is the central theme of this book. What she has to do, in order to stay warm and fed, left me in awe of her ingenuity.

I found this book a very easy and fast read. I felt Grace's anguish fully. With Christmas approaching, her mother gone, no home, no other family to turn to and a little brother relying on her to keep him safe and fed, she is under relentless pressure - to the point of bending some rules so that they can survive. How she does it and what the outcome is, is for you to find out for yourselves. There is nothing in the entire book that is uncomfortable to read, so it is ideal for young folk, teens and beyond.