One Holy Night by J. M. Hochstetler

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing One Holy Night from Sheaf House (April 1, 2008) by J. M. Hochstetler


J. M. Hochstetler writes stories that always involve some element of the past and of finding home. Born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages. She was an editor with Abingdon Press for twelve years and has published three novels.

One Holy Night, a contemporary miracle story for all seasons, released in April 2008. Daughter of Liberty (2004) and Native Son (2005), books 1 and 2 of the American Patriot Series are set during the American Revolution. Book 3, Wind of the Spirit, is scheduled for release in March 2009. Hochstetler is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, and Historical Novels Society.


In 1967 the military build-up in Viet Nam is undergoing a dramatic surge. The resulting explosion of anti-war sentiment tears the country apart, slicing through generations and shattering families. In the quiet bedroom community of Shepherdsville, Minnesota, the war comes home to Frank and Maggie McRae, whose only son, Mike, is serving as a grunt in Viet Nam.

Frank despises all Asians because of what he witnessed as a young soldier fighting the Japanese in the south Pacific during WWII. The news that his son has fallen in love with and married Thi Nhuong, a young Vietnamese woman, shocks him. To Frank all Asians are enemies of his country, his family, and himself. A Buddhist, Thi Nhuong represents everything he despises. So he cuts Mike out of his life despite the pleas of his wife, Maggie; daughter, Julie; and Julie s husband, Dan, the pastor of a growing congregation.

Maggie is fighting her own battle–against cancer. Convinced that God is going to heal her, Frank plays the part of a model Christian, but his pastor is concerned about how he’ll respond if things don’t go the way Frank hopes. As on that holy night so many years ago, a baby will be born and laid in a manger–a baby who will bring forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing to the McRae family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of One Holy Night, go HERE.

ANDREA’S COMMENTS: This is one for lovers of grab-the-tissues, pacifist-minded vietnam war era fiction with threads on racism, such as was a common issue among soldier that survived the Japan theater in WWII. That particular thread brought back memories of my grandfather, who once when I was a kid turned and walked out of a Chinese restaurant on us. It wasn’t until years later that I understood why he and my folks got into such a huge fight, or what his problem with Chinese food was. In one way, this kind of racism is more unforgiveness to the point where you punish everyone who happens to faintly resemble those who hurt you. That is something we are all susceptible to, “I don’t like you because you remind me of someone who hurt me,” so we do need to watch ourselves.

I won’t get into the pacifist theology, other to say that turn the other cheek means to let petty insults go so problems don’t escalate. The only new testament verses directly related to war is Romans 13, which pretty clearly states governments have that power. Of course, one must leave room for individual conscience. The main gripe is it gets into apologetics for no good reason (ie has little or nothing to do with the plot) on a regular basis and the answers are, shall we say, a bit shallow. Not to mention they make for stilted dialogue. Also, unbiblical positions are given ink without a satisfactory biblical response to counter them, which could potentially do spiritual harm to some readers. As none of this had much to do with anything, it unnecessarily bogs down an otherwise good story (if you like tear jerkers, that is.)

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