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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Good Story Is A Good Story: Book Review by Fran Lewis -AUTHOR TOM GREATON

THE SANTA SHOP – BY TOM GREATON – REVIEWED BY FRAN LEWIS

Have you read a Tim Greaton novel lately? One reviewer called The The Santa Shop "...pure distilled emotions." Tim's mainstream emotional novels and fantasy books for all ages are available at all fine bookstores, or get discounted and signed collector editions at www.focushousepublishing.com.

Hope is something that everyone needs and never give up on. No matter what life throws at you it’s too precious to take yourself away and out of the world. Everyone has a purpose in life and sometimes events happen that we cannot control yet feel that if we were present the outcome would have been different. Not always the case. Skip Ralstat was a lawyer whose family died at the hand of a thoughtless man who was on drugs. Going to an office party on Christmas Eve and arrive back home finding his wife and son burned to death riddled him with guilt. Deciding his life was worthless; his time on earth limited, he gave up on himself and decided to live on the streets. But, unknown to Skip although he lived alone and wandered the many streets in Albany each day and night he was never really alone nor lacking people who really cared about him and understood his despair.

The decisions we make in life can determine what happens to us in the present as well as the future. Not all decisions will be sound or right. But, making them we have to stand by what we decide. Replaying and reliving failures and successes will not help because you cannot rewind time and recreate the outcome of a decision or event. Skip decided to go to a Christmas party on Christmas Eve leaving his wife and daughter home. Unfortunately, one of the tenants where they lived was careless, on drugs and started a fire that killed many including his family. Was their death really his fault? Would the outcome have been different had he been home? Would the world be better off without him? Hard decision. What would your answer be?
Self- blame is a way out of facing reality. Suicide is one means of escape. As Skip wanders the streets one morning he meets Father Johnson he invites him into his warm church, gives him a warm meal, somewhere to sleep and much food for thought. Kind, caring and understanding and definitely not judgmental, Skip hears what the Father’s message about life is but will he heed his words.

Leaving the church he meets a man named Barwood who shares his story with him and takes him to meet a wonderful woman named Martha who owns a soup kitchen. Justifying being homeless, explaining why he’s living on the streets and yet encouraged the man to return to his life and not give up on himself. Christmas and the holiday season often brings out the best in some and the worst in others. Meeting Barwood would play some positive thoughts and remembrances in his mind as he remembers the good times and the wealth of having a family. But, yet he planned to take his own life and when Barwood tells him about Christmas Leap in the town of Gary, he plans to find a way to get there. Meeting several people along the way, Jenny who owns a lot of property and is striving to open her own shelter. The lady at the Governor’s office who opens his eyes to prejudice and the waitress at the diner that was just plain rude. Yet, Skip in all of his despair and sorrow found a way to teach each one of these people and others a lesson in kindness, humility and understanding.

Arriving in Gary he befriends the man in the Santa Shop who explains how he came to own it and why. But, one toy truck, one man dressed as a reaper would make all the difference to him and many others. Living on the streets, not used to the kindness and caring of others he turns down the gift from the man who owns the Santa Shop, tells the waitress she is rude and finds a way to make a little girl at the inn smile. Why do people treat the homeless and those less fortunate as less than human? Remembering his wife and son he realizes that his own death should be imminent and finds the bridge famous for the Christmas Leap event each year and climbs to the top.
What does happen I cannot tell you or explain? The thoughts played in his head, the words that come out and the fear in his heart is immeasurable. The reality of the situation, what changes him or does not change him you need to read for yourself. The story begins with one man who needs to do something before he and his wife move to another place. Just how the beginning links to the ending you will have to read for yourself. Will he jump or will something in his heart bring him back and show him that life is fragile as delicate as a piece of blown glass which needs to be protected or it will shatter. Find out for yourself because this is one book that everyone should read.

I just lost my mom and my sister. There are times that I feel sad, cry and wonder why they are no longer here. I often wonder what more could have been done by the doctors to save them. I often wonder what would have happened had I been there or told sooner about my sister’s heart attack. You cannot rewind the past but you can make them proud of you and your work in the present.

One man’s heartfelt story and journey from despair to redemption. One man’s voice heard loud and clear and one author who gave me the honor of reading and reviewing it.


Skip could be anyone. He could be your neighbor, friend, husband or brother. This book teaches so many important lessons. First, you are never really alone if you allow others to reach out to you. Second, the kindness of both Martha and Jenny was precious to him regardless of the end result. Third, never letting the words of others sting even though they burn your heart. The tears that came to my eyes were not only for my sister and mother but for anyone who loses faith and does not realize that life means easing the pain of others to sometimes help yourself. The only leap anyone should take is one of faith and hope.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer