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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
The Smile of December is a work of fiction in the interpersonal drama subgenre. It is aimed at mature readers and was penned by author Jonathan Vickers. The book follows Darryl Walker, a man who is determined to be the kind of father to his two sons that his father never was to him. As Darryl raises them into adulthood, despite being in a loveless marriage, their bonds as a family continually survive being tested by the whims of fate until an act of sexual violence causes a seismic disruption in all their lives and their true characters begin to show.
This is a very challenging drama that doesn’t shy away from some serious issues, in particular the long-lasting impact on those affected. Author Jonathan Vickers shows a serious level of skill in his craft as his prose deftly treats each subject with the sensitivity it’s due without ever undermining the damage that these acts cause, balancing an unflinching honesty in the depiction of abuse and sexual assault without ever straying into shock value. The characters in the story are wonderfully nuanced with Darryl in particular sitting in the center of the family web, fighting tooth and nail to be a good father, slowly coming to terms with the damage that has been done to him in the process. Overall, The Smile of December is a deep and careful character study that masterfully depicts the building of pressure within the Walker family and then explores the pieces that remain after events that cause this family unit to fall apart.