The Smile of December

Fiction - Drama
210 Pages
Reviewed on 02/25/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I am a former actor and director in theatre, and have now turned to writing in my free time. This is my first novel after penning a short story that I like very much (i.e. THE PARTY, also entered in the contest and awaiting review), several memoir pieces based on my growing up, and an essay on the affect the coronavirus pandemic had on New York City at the beginning of the lockdown. I graduated from the University of Michigan, am an Army veteran (Vietnam era), and have worked for many years in hospital administration. The idea for my novel occurred to me many years ago, but at that time I hadn't experienced life enough to do it justice until now. I am retired and live in New York with my wife, daughter, and granddaughter, who finds it fun to refer to me as "Babbo".

    Book Review

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.

Natalie Soine

The Smile of December by Jonathan Vickers is a family drama set in California in the 1960s. Darryl Walker was a graduate of the University of San Francisco with a degree in Art and Advertising. After his military duty, Darryl was employed as an illustrator in the art department of the J.T. Willis Advertising Agency in New York. Laura Sayed secured a high-paying position as secretary to one of the top executives at J.T. Willis. Don Thayer worked in the art department and, at Darryl’s suggestion, took Laura out on a date. When Darryl discovered that Don had attacked Laura, he went to Don’s apartment to deliver his own form of justice. Laura discovered she was pregnant and forced Darryl to marry her before giving birth to Kevin who was idolized by Darryl. The couple had a second son, Jody, the apple of his mother’s eye. After tragedy strikes the family, Darryl finds himself looking for answers to many of life’s complicated questions.

What a powerful story, filled with drama and intrigue. Jonathan Vickers is a fantastic author with a wonderful writing style. The Smile of December is smooth flowing and comfortable to read. Each character is well defined, including Darryl’s family and Laura’s upbringing. The various scenes and locations are beautifully depicted, making it easy for the reader to form a visual story. I would recommend that every adult read The Smile of December, especially those considering a permanent relationship or parenthood. All-round, a great novel highly recommended to all adults, as a certain level of maturity is required to appreciate the value of Jonathan’s heartfelt message.

Jennifer Ibiam

Darryl Walker grew up with a mean father who wanted to run his life. Strife and resentment brewed between them until he left for college and moved to New York. Laura Sayed was the only child of aging parents who had a frigid outlook on life. They built Laura into an ice woman who also moved to New York. Meg was a beauty queen who moved to New York and landed a job in the same firm as Laura and Darryl. He was in love with one of these women. However, tragedy struck and caught Darryl inside its web, threatening his relationship. He would fight through blackmail and the excruciating dilemma of parenting. Will Darryl ever be happy? Find out in The Smile of December by Jonathan Vickers.

When I finished reading The Smile of December by Jonathan Vickers, I put my head in my hands and exhaled for a few minutes. This 1960s novel was intense and revolved around parenting, abuse, sexuality, and choices. Jonathan is a fantastic writer with depth. He built a realistic story and developed excellent characters in a brilliant plot. My heart broke many times because I kept asking how much a parent could do. When do they cross the line between ensuring a child’s wellbeing and being overbearing? How much freedom should a parent give their child? Jonathan touched on abuse, showing how many of these incidents go unreported. I also could not deal with how parents force their dreams on their offspring. This novel was enlightening with a bittersweet ending. Thank you for a beautiful book, Jonathan.