The Snow Angel by Glenn Beck

Jan 8, 2014

Sometimes when I'm in the mood for a certain kind of book, I can be quite stubborn. A couple of weeks before Christmas, I was nearing the end of an audiobook and realized I didn't have anything else to listen to (this is rare for me--usually I have piles of waiting books). I frantically searched the library website for anything that was available for immediate download or pickup. And of course, there were lots of choices, including many from my massively long to-read list. But I was desperate for something with a Christmas theme (you know how I am in December...), and I couldn't find anything. (It didn't help that the catalog system for one of our libraries (the one with the wider selection of audiobooks) was being revamped and unavailable for public use.)

But then this one came up, and although I would normally avoid Glenn Beck at all costs, it seemed like it might be exactly what I was looking for.

And surprisingly, it was.

By the looks of it, Rachel Price has the perfect life: a gorgeous house, a successful husband, and a charming daughter. But underneath, things are not so pretty. Rachel's husband is controlling and manipulative and often resorts to abusing Rachel, both verbally and physically. Rachel also still suffers from the past effects of having an abusive, alcoholic mother. What's more, after her marriage 12 years before, she lost all contact with her father, a decision she now regrets. Rachel is trapped in the downward spiral of abuse, but just as the story begins, Rachel feels the spark of independence and rekindles a friendship with Max, a tailor who was like a father to Rachel during her tumultuous teen years.

Meanwhile, the story visits an old man in a care center. He is obviously suffering from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's, but in his lucid and even not-so-lucid moments, it is clear that he wants to see someone very much and tell her he's sorry.

I had to laugh when I read the reviews for this book. Some people were adamant that it was not in any way, shape, or form a Christmas story. Never mind that it takes place in December, the climax happens on Christmas Eve, and that it is imbued with the themes of love and forgiveness. No, it deals with abuse, which cannot ever be linked with Christmas. The very idea!

Of course, I'm exaggerating a little bit. But the fact is, abusive relationships do not pause for the month of December and then resume with a vengeance in January. They are present and ugly in every season. (Speaking of present and ugly, I just got called away from writing by my three-year-old who threw up. Real life is definitely going on in the midst of writing these reviews.)

Even though this book was about abuse, it did not have the harsh, dark, oppressive feeling that other books dealing with similar situations have. In other words, it would definitely still be considered a light read. From the beginning, there is hope that Rachel will be able to get out of her bad marriage and rebuild her life. She has support from Max, who loves her like his own flesh and blood, and also from her good friend, Sarah, as well as from her 11-year-old daughter. They give her the emotional and financial support she needs when she finally decides to make the break and leave. Underlying all of that is her father's intense love, even though she is not aware of it until the end of the book.

I have to admit, I was afraid that Glenn Beck would try to lighten it up too much. He paints a picture of real abuse, the kind that is often hidden from view but invades every part of daily life, and there were moments when I thought he was going to try to make it all go away and suddenly make Rachel's marriage happy and glorious. But he didn't, and I appreciated the heart wrenching honesty of it all.

Speaking of the writing, it was good. Not breathtaking, but good. My favorite scene was actually the one from which the title of the book is taken. It is a scene from Rachel's past. That day, her mother had been especially cruel, and Rachel couldn't sleep that night. A fresh blanket of snow had fallen over their neighborhood, and her father, in a moment of rare inspiration, suggested they bundle up and go out into it. They make snow angels in the new snow--dozens of them in all of their neighbors' yards. It is a precious moment from Rachel's childhood, a moment where she really feels the depth of her father's love. I thought this scene was beautifully written. And it made me wonder, who actually wrote it? I'm not necessarily doubting that Glenn Beck could write such a poignant scene, but he did write this book with someone else (Nicole Baart), and I am very curious to know how much of what I liked about this book were her contributions.

So no, the subject matter is not sleigh rides and hot cocoa and romance, so I guess if that's your definition of a Christmas novel, then this is not one. But if you want a story about real trials and real hope set during the time of year when even hard things seem possible, then this is the perfect Christmas story.


  1. When I saw you had read something by Glenn Beck, my first thought was "eww." I am impressed with your fair and thoughtful review. Like you, I am very curious about the relationship between an "author" and his ghost writer. There was a movie about a ghost writer some years ago--I'm blanking on the title. But the process has to involve a lot of conversation between the two, and there will certainly be notes or even a draft as they work on the book together. If you felt the snow angel scene was dramatically different than the rest, I will wager it was probably not Beck's work. But then I find him distasteful, so my opinion is skewed.

    1. I honestly can't compare it to his other writing because I haven't read any of his political books (like you, I generally try to avoid him). So I was just speculating, nothing more.


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