Author: Matt Haig
Finished on: 20 December 2015
Where did I get this book: This was one of the purchases for my daughter from the Forum Books children’s shop (indeed, this is the one that listening to a mere one page made me cry)
This book is bloody wonderful. Not going to mince my words about this one. It is great.
It feels like this generation’s A Christmas Carol, even dare I say it this generation’s nativity story. It is at once bang up to date and incisively political, whilst also feeling utterly timeless. Fewer and fewer of us are going to church, even at Christmas, and it is a long time since Dickens taught us about the importance of not being a big old mean bastard to others. (Incidentally, have you read this about how Dickens invented the secular Christmas as we know it? Most interesting.) And now Haig is here to show us how to find inner peace, fulfilment and the joy in compassion and kindness, in a world that often feels broken. This is the Christmas story for the Oprah generation, and beyond.
I absolutely love Christmas. But there is no denying that the inescapable orgy of festive advertising and commercialism from September onwards has become pretty obscene. We have always had stories that pierce through all the bollocks to show us a deeper, and much lovelier, truth about what Christmas means. And Haig joins an esteemed company of writers that have pulled this off magnificently.
Maybe not quite the meaning of life, but the next best thing: the meaning of Christmas, has been inside you all along. I realise I am making Haig sound like the Dr Phil of Christmas, and it is important to stress that he is much less annoying than that implies.
Despite being at times unapologetically cheesy, Haig pulls it back from the saccharine with his searing portrayal and indictment of the dangers of a corrupt political system, and media. And also importantly with wonderfully scatological scenes such as an exploding troll head, and the aerial bombardment of a baddie with reindeer poo. It is often hilarious, and even more often very moving indeed. Buy it for every child you know, and a fair few adults too.
No wonder one page made me cry. This is a special book. Highly recommended.