A Christmas crisis strikes the Wortham and Hammond families in Leisha Kelly’s novella Till Morning is Nigh. Nine of the ten motherless Hammond children must stay with their kind-hearted neighbors, the Worthams, when their emotionally unstable father goes missing. Fearful for their father’s life and still grieving the death of their mother, the children’s worries are further compounded when a sickness sweeps through the household. As Christmas approaches, it falls to Julia Wortham to bring cheer and hope to a family beset with tragedy.
Told in first person narrative by Julia Wortham, the book relies heavily on dialogue to tell the story. Julia is an admirable, if not always realistic, protagonist, selfless and generous in the midst of poverty. The children’s characters are varied and have a reasonable degree of depth, though they are difficult to keep straight based on their sheer number. Additional confusion arises because Julia has her own two children to add to the mix, as well as a girl named Katie who lives in the Wortham home. Kelly weaves in snippets of information about some of these lesser characters as the story progresses, but often it is too little too late.
Descriptions of the time and setting are sparse, lacking in the rich detail that otherwise could bring the setting to life in the reader’s mind. While the back cover of the book does state that the year is 1932, the story itself gives no reference to the Depression. The reader only knows that this simple farming community has fallen on hard times. This is regrettable, as a true understanding of the setting would only amplify the values the Wortham’s possess: sacrificial love, hope, and joy in the face of difficulty, whether it is poverty, illness, or even death.
Fans of Leisha Kelly and The Wortham Family Series will be pleased to continue this saga of familiar characters. Till Morning is Nigh can stand alone, but it is probably best read in conjunction with the rest of the series. As a newcomer, I found it slightly confusing, somewhat repetitive, and frequently downbeat. I appreciate that Kelly avoided an overly-sappy, clichéd happy-ending, but I was also left wondering about the many loose ends and wishing for more resolution. Unfortunately, I am unlikely to pick up the next novella in order to find out the answers. -- Stacie Roth Miller, Christian Book Previews.com
It is December of 1932, just one year after the Worthams and the Hammonds lost both a dear mother and a selfless friend in one terrible night. What would certainly be a bittersweet occasion turns to crisis when George Hammond disappears, leaving his many children worried and alone.
Can Julia Wortham restore hope and joy to so many forlorn children? With too many mouths, too little money, and a mysterious illness taking hold of some of the children, she has her doubts that God will pull them through.
But she wasn't counting on the miracle of a simple, paper nativity.