The “lovely and memorable tale” (Luis Carlos Montalván, New York Times bestselling author) of a wounded warrior and his younger brother who discover the true meaning of the Christmas holiday in this timeless story of family bonds.
As far as ten-year-old Miller McClellan is concerned, it’s the worst Christmas ever. His father’s shrimp boat is docked, his mother is working two jobs, and with finances strained, Miller is told they can’t afford the dog he desperately wants. “Your brother’s return from war is our family’s gift,” his parents tell him. But when Taylor returns with PTSD, the stress and strain darken the family.
Then Taylor’s service dog arrives—a large black Labrador/Great Dane named Thor. His brother even got the dog! When Miller goes out on Christmas Eve with his father’s axe, determined to get his family the tree they can’t afford, he takes the dog for company—but accidentally winds up lost in the wild forest. In the midst of this emergency, the splintered family must come together and rediscover their strengths, family bond, and the true meaning of Christmas.
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A Lowcountry Christmas
A Lowcountry Christmas is a heartfelt story of a young Marine, Taylor McClellan, who returns to his home in McClellanville, South Carolina at Christmas. One would expect this to be a joyous time of reunion and celebrations, but the McClellan family, as excited and thankful as they are for their son's homecoming, have been struggling through financial hardship brought upon them by the faltering Lowcountry shrimping industry. Still, they welcome their oldest son home from Afghanistan with fanfare, only to realize something is different about Taylor. He has no interest in the celebration, preferring solitude to the presence of family and friends including his younger brother, Miller. As days go by, Taylor's family soon understands something is terribly wrong. Taylor is experiencing nightmares, headaches, and has turned to alcohol to numb his demons. Taylor is suffering from PTSD. As his family struggles to come to terms with what is happening with their son and how to help him, a call is received following up on Taylor being matched with a service dog. They didn't know at the time, but this dog, Thor, would become Taylor's and his family's lifesaver, bringing peace for Taylor, family unity and the true spirit of Christmas.
This book lovingly yet matter-of-factly helps the reader to understand the devastation of those suffering from PTSD as well as their families' anguish as they try to support their loved ones. Mary Alice Monroe once again has breathed life into her book, eliciting a range of emotions from despair and desperation to relief and gratitude. A must read!
A Christmas homecoming: finding your way home
A Lowcountry Christmas is an adjunct novel to the Lowcountry Summer series by Mary Alice Monroe. Although the beloved characters of the series do appear, this story takes place in 2010 and is about Taylor McClellan, Marine veteran, wounded warrior, PTSD sufferer, and native son of the Lowcountry, McClellanville, South Carolina to be exact.
Son of a shrimp boat captain with long family history in the area, Taylor is now set to return home from Washington, D.C. for the holidays. And this is a frightening prospect. Due to his PTSD, Taylor is suffering from terrifying nightmares, blinding migraines, and deep depression. The last thing he wants is to bring this ugly package to his family for Christmas, but the government is sending him home saying treatment of his injuries is complete.
Taylor's fears become realized as he arrives home to a big surprise party. He escapes, taking a bottle of bourbon as his companion. His family, mother Jenny, father Alistair, and 10 year old brother Miller, are thrilled to have Taylor home and safe, but each has their own issues dealing with the Taylor that has returned. Jenny is hoping for a perfect, albeit lean, Christmas. Alistair is struggling to find work after having to dock his shrimp boat due to increased operating costs and the import of cheap shrimp, and finding it quite difficult to find his way to help his son. And Miller cannot understand how his brother's homecoming is his present when all he truly wants is the golden lab puppy from his friend's dog's litter.
Eased from his symptoms by his companion dog Thor, Taylor begins to find his way back. But it isn't until a near tragedy awakens Taylor's training and instincts, does the family find its way.
This is a wonderfully written story with rich characters. It is an enlightening tale dealing with PTSD in an informative yet nonpreachy and interesting manner. I believe it to be a must read for those who would like to better comprehend the truly personal toll this disorder takes. The portrayal of a family coping and the hope that comes from a big dog named Thor and a cold snowy night makes this book right up there with Mary Alice Monroe's best. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.