In happier times, the Carson family discovered a tarnished star in an antique store. They purchased it in the hopes of putting it atop their Christmas tree. Now it's Christmas, the star is shiny, but all is not well in the Carson family.
Jim, the father, was seriously injured in a convoy in the Middle East. Physically, he's better, but suffering from PTSD. His outbursts are putting a strain on the family to the point where his wife feels she must get away for awhile, and on Christmas, he checks himself back into the hospital.
Teenagers, Tim and Martie, are devastated. They want their family back. As they sit watching the Christmas tree, the star at the top draws them. Tim gets it down and writing appears. Martie thinks it will give them a great adventure and as they hold the star it transports them to Valley Forge in the winter of the American Revolution. This is the first time travel adventure. In others, they visit a wagon train and ride on a hospital ship, the H.M.S Brittanic, learning about history and about themselves.
This is a good novel for middle grade students. The characters are empathetic. Students will be able to identify with their problems. One of the major themes of this story is the problem of PTSD, how disruptive it is and how to understand and cope with it. The author portrays the father's struggles in a sympathetic light that will resonate with teens.
Another plus for the story is the historical background in the time travels. It's a good way for teens to get a feel for history. The story has a Christian background that would work well in a church school. It would also make a good read aloud experience for parents and children.
I received this book from PR by the book for this review.