Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Book Stops Here - Review of The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh

Dan Walsh was one of the first people I met in Denver, at the ACFW conference, as I worked the registration desk along with him and his lovely wife. And now I'm part of the blog tour for his debut novel, The Unfinished Gift. What an honor! First, a brief synopsis of the book and then I'll offer my thoughts.

Can a gift from the past mend a broken heart?

Ian Collins is an old man without his son. Patrick Collins is a young boy without his father. On his Christmas list are only three items. He wants the army to find his father. He wants to leave his grandfather's house. And he wants the dusty wooden soldier in Grandfather's attic--the one he is forbidden to touch.

Set at Christmastime in 1943, The Unfinished Gift is the engaging story of a family in need of forgiveness. With simple grace, it reminds us of the small things that affect powerful change in our hearts--a young boy's prayers, a shoe box of love letters, and even a half-carved soldier, long forgotten. This nostalgic story of reconciliation will touch your heart.

My thoughts:

First let me say I am not a huge fan of any type of historical fiction. With that disclaimer, I'll go on to say that this book made me a fan. At least of author Dan Walsh and the way he presents the past.

Patrick Collins is a little boy who just lost his mother and whose father is off at war. The only sensible thing for Child Services to do is place Patrick with his grandfather, Ian. Unfortunately, Grandpa wants nothing to do with caring for a child. In fact, he's been estranged from his son, Patrick's father, for many years. Patrick does his best to please his grandfather but he can't seem to do anything right. What it comes down to is that Ian Collins is a stubborn old mule who needs some Christmas in his life.

Dan Walsh weaves his debut novel like a pro. The main characters are well crafted, the secondary characters bring life and laughter to the story, and the plot is engaging and heartwarming. Messages of forgiveness and love abound throughout and you'll find yourself wiping your eyes (at least, I did!) as you relate to the pain Patrick experiences as a boy all alone and the heartache that lies beneath his grandfather's leathery exterior.

Most of all, this story relays a message of hope. Hope for restored relationships. Hope for healed hearts and changed lives. So, in essence, this story encompasses what Christmas is all about.

The Unfinished Gift is definitely a book for your Christmas Keepsake Shelf. I am looking forward to the sequel, The Homecoming, which is scheduled for release in June, 2010.

Thanks to Revell for providing me with a copy of this book to review.

Dan Walsh is the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, a church he helped found 23 years ago. He is the author of The Unfinished Gift and lives with his family in the Daytona Beach area.

Visit his website at


Little Lady said...

sounds like a good book! :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an interesting read.

Dan Walsh said...

Lynda, so good to connect again after that wonderful conference in Denver. Thank you so much for taking a chance on historical fiction. You really did an incredible job summarizing the story...hard to do in just a few words. And you clearly caught the heart of the story. I'm so glad you liked it. Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

Anonymous said...

I would really like to read this book! Please enter me. Thanks.