I was recently offered the opportunity to review Kaya McLaren's 'How I Came to Sparkle Again' and couldn't wait to start reading it. I knew it was the perfect Christmas story - even the title sounded lovely and Christmassy - so as soon as it arrived I wasted no time in getting stuck in.
The story focus's around three characters/storylines that all take place in the sleepy ski town of Sparkle. Each character is extremely different and diverse than the rest - each with their own individual storyline and issues - but they are all linked in different ways. First of all there is Jill Anthony, a heartbroken woman who returns to Sparkle - her childhood town - after suffering deep heartbreak with her husband. There's also the confident Lisa Carlucci who gets what she wants but decides that maybe it's time to stop playing around and instead settle down into a relationship. Finally there's Cassie Jones - and her father - who are suffering from a family loss and are trying to find ways to cope.
The blurb reads -
Meet the residents of Sparkle...
Jill Anthony spent her childhood in the ski town of Sparkle, Colorado. But more than a decade has passed since she left and when her husband betrays her, she feels Austin, Texas for the town she knows: Sparkle.
Lisa Carlucci no longer wants to treat her body like a Holiday Inn. She's going to hold out for love. The only problem is, love might come in the form of her ski bum best friend.
Cassie Jones, at age ten, has lost her mother to cancer and doesn't believe in anything anymore. She knows her father is worried and she constantly looks for messages from her deceased mother through the heart-shaped rocks they once collected in the streams of Sparkle.
When you give yourself a second chance, it can spark a lifetime of love...
As depressing as the different storylines sound, this story was actually very uplifting! With having three different main characters/storylines I found it refreshing to read about so many different issues - it was a nice change and managed to break up the book a bit to avoid any parts becoming boring or too drawn out. Each character was intertwined with each other in their own way and each bounced off each other with different personality types and issues so I found this affect really cool.
I loved the different messages within this book, such as sometimes you can find love in the most unexpected places when you least expect it - sometimes with a friend! - and that life goes on - things don't always get easier but you can still be happy after heartache. Each storyline was quite unique in it's own way, for example Cassie's storyline about losing her mother to cancer was really moving and not something I'd read about in a story before, so I found it very interesting. Lisa's storyline wasn't so original - finding love with your best friend is a common theme among books but I found that Kaya put her own twist on the storyline, introducing more characters so you really didn't know who she'd settle down with or even if she would at all. Similarily this was the storyline I enjoyed the most, simply because it's probably something I have more experience with than the other issues in the book.
The setting of the story was perfect too - the fact that it was set in a forever snowy ski town which off course was ajourned with various Christmas decorations and traditions was really lovely and put me in the Christmas spirit. Kaya was great at setting the scene and just by reading her words I could easily imagine the different settings around me.
Finally I also really loved the cover of this book - being that it's a Christmas book I was surprised to find it shied away from typical Christmas cover art like Christmas tree's and the use of red & green too much. Instead it was a really sweet nod to the Christmas season and intrigued me too.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting a moving, strong book this Christmas. It's quite long so it lasts ages too and the use of different storylines and characters really breaks it all up and keeps it fresh.