Novel Set During Vietnam War Wins 2009 Book of the Year Award

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One Holy Night by J. M. Hochstetler has won the 2009 CSPA Fiction Book of the Year Award.

You find so few novels set during that turbulent era

Sheaf House Publishers, based near Nashville, Tennessee, announced today that author J. M. Hochstetler has won the Christian Small Publishers Fiction Book of the Year Award for her Vietnam era novel One Holy Night. The annual CSPA Book of the Year Award honors books produced by small publishers for outstanding contribution to Christian life.

One Holy Night is set in 1967, when the military build-up in Vietnam 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 a grunt in Vietnam.

Frank despises Asians because of the horrors he witnessed as a Marine while fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific during WWII. So when Mike marries a young Vietnamese woman, Frank ignores the pleas of his wife and their daughter, Julie, and disowns his soldier son.

At the same time Maggie is fighting her own battle--against cancer. Frank is convinced that if he joins the church and becomes a model Christian, God will miraculously heal her. Instead, he and daughter Julie face a wrenching test of faith.

At heart a modern-day nativity story, One Holy Night is far more than a tale meant only for Christmas. It deals with the gritty issues that impact lives every day, such as intergenerational conflict, violence, addictions, war, illness, death, and divorce.

As reviewer Kim Ford noted on her blog Window To My World, "Within its pages you will discover the most beautiful modern-day essence of Christ's nativity, mercy, and grace you've read in a very long while. . . . As the story unfolds its final scenes, the reader is left with renewed hope in God's sovereign design for each of our lives and His miraculous ability to bring good out of even the darkest circumstances."

Raised in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, Hochstetler has a different perspective on war than most Americans. Although her parents were raised as pacifist Amish and later became Mennonites, both her father and her brother served in the military, her father in WWII and her brother in Vietnam.

"You find so few novels set during that turbulent era," Hochstetler says. "It was such a wrenching time that many of us who lived through it just want to forget it. But healing can't happen when you don't talk about painful experiences. This story resulted from my questioning how we can make sense of important issues like war and devastating illnesses and find forgiveness and reconciliation when relationships are terribly broken. And I wanted to honor the sacrifices made by our men and women who served as well as the courage of those who opposed the war for reasons of conscience."

Hochstetler grew up in the Kokomo, Indiana, area and is an alumna of Indiana University. She was an editor with The United Methodist Publishing House in Nashville, Tennessee, for many years. Her previous novels are Daughter of Liberty and Native Son, books 1 and 2 of the American Patriot Series, set during the American Revolution. Her newest release is book 3 of the series, Wind of the Spirit, which is garnering rave reviews.

For more information about One Holy Night and J. M. Hochstetler, visit J. M. Hochstetler . Sheaf House books are distributed by APG Sales and Distribution (800-327-5113) and are available through bookstores and from online retailers such as,,, and on the Sheaf House Web site.

Joan M. Shoup

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