***** The Heart of Christmas Review by Rox Burkey
The holiday season is upon us. What a treat to get a new short story, by award-winning author Jan Sikes, to shine the light on the meaning of family. Sadly, broken families are not that unusual. It is what the individuals do to reassess and alter the future that makes the difference in living.
Cole Knight is a successful musician who worked hard and caught some amazing breaks along his journey. Growing up in the Cumberland Mountains, his life was shattered when his father died, and his mother crumbled under the weight of her broken heart.
Getting ready for another sold out performance he reflects on his family when a reporter gets too nosey. I loved the detail that Author Sikes shares to pull the reader into the story. It worked.
Besides April, I have a younger brother, Timmy.
Timmy had been born different. They said his brain never developed the way it should. He’d sit for hours, fascinated with the dust that danced on the sunbeams through the windows, lost in his own little world. Oh, how Papa doted on him. From the time Timmy could wrap his fingers around the neck of a fiddle, he’d spent hours patiently teaching him to play.
After the cruel day that snatched our papa from us, the life we knew as children of Robert Anderson was no more.
Mama fell into a deep depression and locked everyone out. If it hadn’t been for April, us Anderson kids might’ve starved to death.
My one solace was, is, and always will be, music. I’d often disappear for hours at a time, taking my guitar with me. A stream runs a few hundred yards from our miner’s shack on the side of the Cumberland Mountains. That’s where I’d go to find solitude. I’d play my guitar and sing to the fish that jumped out of the water, turtles that sunned on a log, and frogs that leaped from stone to stone.
Through the eyes of Coal, you feel his guilt, sadness, and smoldering hope when he realizes that his family is not at the bottom of a bottle or with a night of pleasure after a concert. It might be bravery or happenstance that always people to change direction when they figure out what is truly important in their life.
I love the subtle messaging on self-examination and thinking with your whole being that talks to me with this story. The characters, descriptions, and interactions are masterfully woven into a tale that works for the entire family. I loved the surprises sprinkled throughout and will keep this on my Christmas reading lists, much like the annual movies of the season. Highly recommended.
About the author
Jan Sikes openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. You simply can’t make this stuff up. It all happened. Through fictitious characters, the entertaining true story comes to life in an intricately woven tale which encompasses four books. A series of music CDs accompanies the books, while a beautiful and unique book of poetry and art brings the story full circle. And now that the story is told, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published numerous award-winning short stories. She published her debut paranormal romance novel, Ghostly Interference, in 2020, as Book One of The White Rune Series. Jagged Feathers is set to release January 31, 2022, as Book Two of that series. She is a member of the Authors Marketing Guild, The Writer’s League of Texas, Romance Writers of America, and the Paranormal Writer’s Guild. She is an active blogger (both on her own blog and at Story Empire) an avid fan of Texas music and a grandmother of five. She resides in North Texas. She’d love to connect with you.