â€œâ€™Hark!â€™ â€¦Do you know what that means? It means, â€˜To listen.â€™ Thatâ€™s right! It means â€œto listen attentively.â€ Which was something I was not capable of doing until last week. It was clearly more than just a coincidence that God used â€œHark! The herald angels singâ€ to draw me closer to Him. He knew my weakness and exploited it until it became my strength. He talks to each one of us differently, in ways we will know it is He who is talking.â€ â€“ Sam Sargent
Hark is a story about Samuel Sargent, a recently divorced man, who is now depressed and lost amidst his once beloved holiday. He concludes that he has â€œlostâ€ his way, and decides to return to his family with whom he has not spent Christmas for ten years. Yet the night before he leaves, a woman who broke his heart ten years ago enters into the scene claiming her life has been changed and that she is now a new woman. His spirits soar and he begins his journey to spend Christmas with his family and his long lost friend. However, a sudden blizzard hits the region, and Sam is involved in an accident, throwing him into a journey where he finds that he has truly â€œlostâ€ his direction. As he works to survive the night, the true meaning of Christmas is revealed to him, as the author puts it, â€œin a most unusual manner.â€
As an avid reader, I have found myself quickly turning into a literary critic. Whether it is Nathaniel Hawthorne or a modern-day author, my intense study of literature and writing this past year has improved not only my own writing, but also my understanding of what makes great literature. And speaking of Hawthorne, he just happened to be the last author I had read (in novel length), before reading Hark. So Hark was up against some high standards. But I have a love for Christmas novels, and this was no exception. The mood was quickly set as I found myself enveloped in a Christmas spirit, smelling the basting turkey and smiling at the glimmer and glow of the lights on the houses. I heard the blaring music and aroma of coffee in the local diner. I felt the cold of the night, and tiredness, the heartache, the pain, and all the emotions Sam and his family and friends experienced clearly. Hark is like watching a movie on the Hallmark channel while you snuggle up with your family and favorite cup of coffee.
One problem or criticism could be that Hark follows the formula nature of a typical Christmas novel. A man alone. A woman alone. A lost son returning home to the family. And the wonderful endings filled with tears and hugs. But Hark avoids being overly stereotypical by inserting interesting twists and a good bit of irony, all greatly appreciated by the reader. One of the purposes is to entertain, and entertain it will â€“ I read the book in one afternoon. Other shortcomings of the book are found at the beginning within the first three chapters, including some minor spelling errors and neglect of contractions which make the early dialogue somewhat cumbersome. Yet those are easily overlooked and do not detract from the story line, which appeared well thought out and planned.
Hark uplifted my spirits. It inspired me. It reminded me of the gospel, which is so clearly preached again and again in this novel. Topics such as sin, the law, grace, justification and forgiveness are all clearly spoken about. Verses relating the passages you are reading are placed on just about every two or three pages â€“ all 188 of them. This key element really hit home some of the points that were being made through fiction, and showed that the main purpose in this book was more than just entertainment â€“ it had a message that was clear, unlike many other pieces of Christmas fiction out on the market that help get you in the Christmas spirit, but only stir your emotions
Chris Breme obviously has some amazing talent in the fiction realm, and his future works can only get better â€“ and heâ€™s only a few books away from being nothing but stellar. The talent shown in setting the mood and crafting believable characters is not easy, but Hark holds that professional feel.
If you are one who loves a good Christmas novel that will prepare you for the holiday, remind you of the gospel, and get you in the Christmas mood, then Hark is well worth your time and money. In addition to the book, an amazing music CD by pianist Jason Brown is available for purchase along with Hark. This CD would be another great addition to your holiday music collection in your home.
Hark! Hear the Herald Angels Sing!