The Best Book of 2021

There are good books, great books, even exceptional books. Recently, I read a book that needs a new category. I haven’t yet determined what to call that—a star in the heavens, an eternal light, a bridge to forever. I’m waxing poetic because this book touched me in ways that most books don’t. This one made me think and question and yearn for answers, even as I was immersed in the story. The name of the book is Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan.

I began the journey with another Patti Callahan book called Becoming Mrs. Lewis about Joy Davidman, the wife of C. S. Lewis. I’m not a C. S. Lewis fan. I haven’t read Mere Christianity or The Screwtape Letters or even The Chronicles of Narnia. I knew little about the topic of Mr. Lewis going into the book. But Ms. Callahan did such extensive research on her subjects that you don’t need prior knowledge. You can simply enjoy the exquisite writing. And it really is exquisite. The letters between Joy and Jack, the descriptions of the English countryside, the anxiety and tension and yearning are all brought to life with beautiful, relatable prose. So I couldn’t wait to dive in to Once Upon a Wardrobe.

● Where DO stories come from? ●

Once again the subject is C. S. Lewis, but in such a different way. The hero of the story is a young boy, George, who’s dying and wants to know where Narnia came from. A simple question that he puts to his older sister Meg. To answer that question, she seeks out C. S. Lewis, and so begins an extraordinary conversation between Meg and Jack, then between Meg and George, and ultimately between the story and the reader. Because as much as George wanted to know about Narnia, so did I. As a reader, as a writer, as someone who’s always been entranced with storytelling. Where DO stories come from? How did Jack come up with the idea for Narnia? Are stories simply real events that authors make into fiction, or is there something fantastic and otherworldly about them? Tell me, tell me. I want to know.

And that’s the magic of Once Upon a Wardrobe. The story of George and Meg and Jack will draw you in, make you laugh and cry, and warm your heart. And it will carry your spirit to a place of wonder where hope grows and love blossoms and dreams sparkle and shine. Readers, grab your copy now and dig in. Authors, I dare you to find the answer. Dreamers, get ready for a marvelous ride. Once Upon a Wardrobe is a magical mystery tour, just waiting for you to hop on.