Zanna’s Gift by Orson Scott Card

books_zannasgiftZanna’s Gift is subtitled “A Life in Christmases” and that’s exactly what this is. It was first published by Orson Scott Card under the pen name Scott Richards a while back. It’s been rereleased now under his true name and is available in a signed edition for an amazingly low price ($5.99) on his website. I highly highly recommend that you get this one. It’s a very special little book and probably the best Christmas story I’ve read. 

After reading nearly 40 Orson Scott Card books, I’m still surprised by how wonderful each book is. His characters are top notch, his storytelling perfect, and he knows how to emotionally connect a story with it’s reader. Zanna’s Gift tells the story of a family that we first meet in the 1930’s. Suzanna (Zanna for short) is one of 4 children, the others being all boys: Ernie, Davy and Bug. She’s also the youngest and has an immense love for drawing. She shares a special relationship with her oldest brother Ernie who is the only one in the family who is able to discern what her drawings actually are. Unfortunately, Ernie passes away at the young age of 15 due to a brain aneurysm in his sleep. It takes Suzanna a little while to realize that he is dead, but when she does, she is distraught. She’s upset mostly because she had drawn a picture of him reading a Bobbsey Twins book to her and she knew that no one else would know what the drawing was. She had put more work into that drawing than anything else she had done and it was going to be her Christmas gift to him. 

When Christmas comes, she brings out the picture, and despite the fact that no one knows what it is still, they all love it. The next Christmas, she brings it out again on Christmas morning to remember Ernie. The Christmas after that, her brother gives her a frame to keep the picture in and it stays in that frame throughout the rest of her life. It’s always placed on the mantle on Christmas morning. We see the frame, and Ernie with it, carried through her marriage, the birth of her children, and through so many events. Throughout the book we watch the family grow and new generations come and they all hold the family traditions and pass on the family stories. 

This is a beautiful little book for Christmas and was especially meaningful to me right now considering all we have all gone through recently. It’s mostly a book about remembering the lives of those we loved while still moving forward in our own lives. Finding peace in honoring the dead by what we do in life. I’m going to share the last line of the book because I think it’s a very poignant one, though it doesn’t give anything away. “Grief is just another name for love.” I think that’s a beautiful quote and it’s one that I’ll remember for a long time. This special little signed book is signed “To Chris: Love and Christmas, Orson Scott Card 2008.” That’s what Christmas is all about.


I also wanted to take the time to thank everyone for the wonderful response to the Dewey’s Books Reading Challenge! It’s really been fantastic and I hope I can live up to it’s success so far. I was telling Nymeth in an email that I think Dewey would truly enjoy this, but she would certainly have something sarcastic to say over the sentimentality of it all :p I was a bit unclear in my last post…I’m putting everyone’s names in the sidebar of the challenge blog, not on this one…so if you don’t see your name on the challenge blog and you’ve signed up, please let me know. Also, there are still plenty of slots open to host mini-challenges and I would love to have more people sign up for that! Please let me know if you want to and don’t be shy!!! LOL…I’ve never hosted a challenge before and I honestly have no idea what I’m doing, so it can’t be any worse than this :p Thank you all again! You’re wonderful 🙂


10 Responses

  1. Oh Chris, this does sound like a truly special little book! (In fact, I immediately went over and ordered it!) That last line is so beautiful, it left me with tears in my eyes.

  2. well, aren’t you just wizzing through all these christmas books!
    yeah, yeah you just want your book count for 2008 to be big ! lol

  3. Chris, I have this book on my nightstand to read. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It does seem like the perfect book to read right now, for many reasons!

  4. Debi, Yay!!! I’m so glad you ordered a copy. I just hope that it gets to you before Christmas so you can enjoy it this year! It’s a wonderful, wonderful book. I read over that last line multiple times before I finally closed the book.

    Deslily, :p You caught me! Actually, I’m one book away from tying last years record of 78. So if I read two more, I can hit 79 and beat the record!! Woohoo! I’m starting The Story of Edgar Sawtelle after this next book though and it’s kind of a chunkster, so I hope I finish it in time for the end of the year! Sometimes I get hung up on a book….

    Robin, You actually own this one? Awesome! I didn’t think many people knew about it, but then again, you have such great taste in books that I should’ve figured you had it 🙂 I can’t wait to hear what you think of it! It’s a fantastic read.

  5. Ohhh I have that one waiting in the wings also!! I think I am going to be one or two books shy of 100 !!! a record for me thats for sure.. not that i care how many I read.. just how many I enjoy!!

  6. “It’s mostly a book about remembering the lives of those we loved while still moving forward in our own lives.”

    Perfect. And that last line is indeed beautiful. Funny how sometimes the book you’re reading turns out to be ideal for what you’re feeling yourself at the time. Thanks for this review, Chris.

  7. Great review! I wish I was allowing myself book purchases… Oh, well, maybe next year. I am reading a Christmas book, too, it is about Charles Dickens and how ‘The Christmas Carol’ reinvented Christmas. I really need to read a fiction Christmas book into the line-up somewhere!

  8. I stopped reading after the first paragraph and ordered myself a copy plus one for a Christmas eve giveaway when Kailana and I do our shared advent day! Thanks buddy, I’m excited about getting and reading this.

  9. Deslily, It sounds like a really good one to me…but I’ve read some bad reviews too :/ We’ll see!

    Nymeth, That happens so often with books I read. They just seem to reflect what I feel at the time or what I need from it. Maybe it’s us putting ourselves into the book. Who knows, but I find it comforting.

    Kailana, You should allow yourself to purchase this one 😉

    Carl, I’m so glad you’re getting this one! Like I told Debi, I just hope it comes in time for you to read it on Christmas. Whoever wins it in your giveaway is a lucky person indeed!

  10. […] the quintessential Orson Scott Card fan, reviewed this book a few weeks back. In addition to making it tempting because of his review, he also pointed out that […]

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