One Holy Night
What People Are Saying . . .

Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year

Reviews and Endorsements

“While I draw this fleeting breath, when mine eyes shall close in death, when I soar to worlds unknown, see thee on thy judgment throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.” (p. 250)

One Holy Night is J.M. Hochstetler’s fourth novel, and 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! Set amid the turmoil of the Viet Nam War, the McRae family’s story is one riddled with difficult situations and trials that rock the foundation of their faith. Frank, father to Mike and Julie, is particularly torn as his son leaves for a war he doesn’t believe in, and his wife Maggie must engage in a fight for her very life against an unseen enemy. Frank is still battling his own nightmares from his time fighting in the Pacific during WWII. From the very first pages of this story the battle rages around Frank on every front. Will God equip him for the battle or allow him to be destroyed on the battlefield?

What do these images of war and turmoil have to do with the nativity? Well, the final battle is waged in Frank’s heart and mind during a Christmas Eve blizzard. The decision he makes that night determines life or death for two innocent people. 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.

One Holy Night was my introduction to J. M. Hochstetler’s work, and I have to tell you it was really terrific! She richly captures the turmoil surrounding the lives of those affected by the Viet Nam War, and the many emotional conflicts that raged on as a result of that war. I look forward to reading her other books, and I highly recommend this one to you!

—Kim Ford, Window to My World (


It's 1966. A young soldier leaves for Vietnam. His mother is fighting ovarian cancer. His father is still fighting the Japanese from World War II, steeped in bitterness at what happened to his brother. His sister and her pastor husband work hard to hold the family together, but this seems to be one family that doesn't want to survive.

Reading J. M. Hochstetler's One Holy Night is like watching a Hallmark Hall of Fame television production. Yes, it's somewhat predictable. Yes, it tugs at the heart strings and brings tears to the eyes. Yes, there are some things you want to know more about but only get a glimpse of. And yes, things seem to come together almost too fast at the end.

But this is a novel about family, and we can see much of ourselves and our own families in this story of the McRaes and the Christensens of suburban Minneapolis. The struggles with past hurts; the hope we all have, often in the face of hopelessness; a family dealing with unimaginable loss; the wonder and tenderness of a young man and woman discovering love with each other—Hochstetler tells it all.

—Glynn Young


J. M. Hochstetler dug deep into the well of emotions and came up with a story that strikes the heartstrings in a tender and yet also provocative manner. The characters are so well drawn, they've stayed in my mind long after reading the book, almost as if they were real people that I've known for a long time. Being the daughter of a Vietnam Vet, I also appreciated Hochstetler's gentle handling of one of the most tumultuous times in our country's history. And even though it's set during the Vietnam era, there are lessons to be learned and truths to be taken away from this beautifully crafted story for today. Highly recommended.

Kaye Dacus, author of Menu for Romance


One Holy Night is a Christmas story that can be read at any time of the year. When Mike McRae writes to his family that he has married a Vietnamese girl, his father, Frank, disowns his son allowing bitterness and unforgiveness to destroy any attempts of reconciliation. Mike's sister, Julie, is left with the painful task of dealing with her father's inability to deal with past hatreds towards a race responsible for the death of his brother during World War II. Her mother's struggles to survive cancer stretches her own faith to the breaking point.

God once more uses a baby at Christmas time to bring healing and restoration to a family. Those who have lost loved ones in times of war and disease will receive comfort from a story written with sensitivity and warmth.

—Diana L. Dilcher



The debut release from Sheaf House, Hochstetler does not disappoint with this heartrending tale of loss and new life. Frank McRae has lived for decades with a deep-seated hatred and prejudice against Asians due to the things he witnessed -as well as the loss of his brother - while fighting in WWII. He had no interest in God despite his wife's prayers for countless years. But the loss of his wife and son, and the discovery of his half Asian grandson, will shake his world, and bring him from complete hatred and despair to a new life and hope in Christ. I can't wait to see what comes next from Ms. Hochstetler!

—Jill Johnson


One Holy Night by J. M. Hochstetler is a powerful novel of anger and redemption. The McRae family is facing serious crises in 1966. Frank and Maggie are facing the deployment of their son Mike to Vietnam while Maggie is fighting ovarian cancer. The events of the next thirteen months will leave them all changed forever, including their daughter Julie and her husband Dan.


Mike is uncertain about the war, as well as his faith, but enlisting seemed the right thing to do, especially to please his WWII vet father. Frank is harboring bitter feelings toward anyone of Asian decent after what he saw during his war years, and that soon spills into his relationship with his son when Mike falls in love with a Vietnamese girl.


Hochstetler unflinchingly portrays the anger of bigotry and its effects through Frank. His words are difficult to read, but the author uses them to at first define and then eventually redeem the character. One Holy Night contains a miracle that can change even the hardest of hearts. I was impressed at how Hochstetler let her characters talk about their faith to unbelievers without proselytizing. It's a perfect novel for Christmas with a story full of hope and love.

Christy Lockstein, Christy’s Book Blog


One Holy Night offers so much more story than the title infers. Hochstetler’s writing enables you to suspend disbelief and enter the 60’s, that era of awakening from small-town innocence to the awareness all is not right with the world. The author is a master at building complex characters that will steal your heart. This poignant tale of forgiveness and healing is a far cry from predictable. And it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting, but so much more.

The faith journey is a realistic one. I loved how Hochstetler portrays Julie questioning God. Too often writers give us plastic icons, bearers of strength and platitudes. Not so in One Holy Night. But how they deal with the hurt is something I could relate to. And isn’t that what we want in inspirational fiction? I give One Holy Night a very high recommendation.

—Ane Mulligan, Novel Journey, Affictionado

You know, I like this book. I like that the author has taken me into a story that includes Viet Nam, feelings of an old WWII vet, family issues and intermarriage. She adds the flavor of the time and the problems of family life in a very nice blend by mentioning songs like "Moon River" in the background while concentrating on the relationships in the story.

How complicated it is for someone who has served in battle, lost so much, and has such distrust left over causing chains of prejudice. Mike’s dad, Frank, didn’t leave that battle on the field, no man who has been to war can, but continues to battle his way back home every day.


I love that the author can take a historical snapshot and deal with things that we all still face everyday. War doesn’t go away, feelings don’t snap into a disciplined order, and family isn’t perfect. But J. M. Hochstetler portrays a gentle and good love through human emotion persevering to overcome the circumstances that mold us.


This is a very good Christmas tale for our country right now. One that helps us understand a little bit more of the need for forgiveness before it is too late. Touching.

Angela Breidenbach


J. M. Hochstetler makes another mark on Christian fiction with One Holy Night, a moving and inspirational tale of family, love, war, prejudice, and heart-wrenching loss. Though I’m not usually interested in stories set during the Vietnam War, I quickly became caught up in the lives of Hochstetler’s characters and felt their joy, pain, and struggle to either hold tight to their faith or open their heart to God. Warning: The deeper you journey into this painfully honest tale, the more you’ll need a ginormous box of tissues close by. Very recommended!

—Tamara Leigh, bestselling author of Splitting Harriet


One Holy Night is a stunning first release from Sheaf House, a new boutique publisher based in Tennessee. One of the best things about this book is its reader friendly design. The font size and legibility, along with premium paper, contribute to easy reading, even in low light. Kudos to the design team at Sheaf House!


Since savoring the last page of J. M. Hochstetler’s story, I have found myself revisiting the characters regularly as if they were members of my own family. The rich characterization and lush description place the reader comfortably in the midst of the story setting: the heartland of America near the end of the Vietnam War. Any reader who can’t relate to this turbulent era in U.S. history will grow in understanding, and those who lived during that time will be reminded of the division it created.


Amazingly, Hochstetler tackles several big issues—love, loyalty, war and death—while maintaining a positive thesis. Family can survive. Human love is grander in weakness than in strength. And faith is, by necessity, stronger in tragedy than in triumph. 


One Holy Night is a soon-to-be-classic “miracle story” with an inspirational message that will warm your heart with love. It is a wonderful statement of faith and a gift of hope.

Kathy Harris, author and agent for Joe Bonsall

of the Oak Ridge Boys

One Holy Night is powerful yet gentle in both its method and message. Set in the 1960s amidst the divisiveness of an unpopular war, a family’s very faith and foundations are tested as memories and cultures collide. Hochstetler’s “lighting the past . . . and leading you home” signature couldn’t be more appropriate than in this sacred tale of hope rising sweetly from the ashes of sorrow. . . .

—Kathi Macias, author of Beyond Me: Modeling a You-First Love in a Me-First World.

One Holy Night is a heartwarming story of forgiveness. But this is the gritty kind of forgiveness—the kind that must first endure the deepest despair imaginable. In 1967, Frank McRae still nurses bitter hatred toward all Asians after witnessing unspeakable atrocities on the battlefields of the South Pacific during World War II. When Frank’s only son, Mike, falls in love with a young Vietnamese girl while fighting in the war there, then marries her, Frank disowns his soldier son.


With his family torn apart, Frank comes face to face with the ugliness of his hatred in an unforgettable moment of truth. What happens next is one of the most touching scenes I’ve ever read in a novel. This is a very different kind of Christmas story and one that stayed with me long after I reached the end.

—Diane Moody, author of Confessions of a Prayer Slacker (Sheaf House, August 2010)


Provocative and insightful, One Holy Night shows in rich detail how God can use the most trying circumstances to bring people around until they see how much they need each other, and need Him. This life-changing story will move you to tears as you experience the humility of a young Vietnamese woman, her husband's desire to see his father heal, and the trials that bring them together in one desperate attempt to save another’s life.

—Michelle Sutton, author of It's Not About Me


Author J. M. Hochstetler depicts a family in crisis during the Vietnam years. Tenderly written and poignant, One Holy Night is relevant to our lives today. The ending moved me to tears.

—Kacy Barnett-Gramckow, author of The Heavens Before.


A heart-wrenching story of a war few believed in, a son's duty, a mother's fight to survive cancer, and the devastating results of prejudice. One family's faith is tested to the limit . . . and beyond.

A. K. Arenz, author of The Case of the Bouncing Grandma


One Holy Night offers a poignant look into the lives of one family touched by war and loss. The McRae’s are a real- to-life family, struggling to cope with the range of emotions and experiences that humans encounter. While Maggie (mother) battles cancer, Mike (son) fights for his life in Vietnam. While Dan and Julie (daughter) teach their parishioners and community to love through their ministry and example, Frank (father) struggles with deep-seated bitterness and hate that threatens to tear them all apart. Each member of the family has his or her personal demons to face, while working to relate to the family as a whole. The plotlines combine to create a touching story with characters that you will feel like you know. Be prepared with tissues. You will need them as you follow their stories through to the end.

Lisa Tuttle, author


One Holy Night is a story of true forgiveness, but not easy forgiveness. Frank McRae’s losses span over 20 years and go so deep that he will probably never change and he doesn’t want to change. His family won’t give up hope though, and they continue to pray for this devoted husband and family man. What they need is a miracle, a true miracle of the heart. Set in the Vietnam War era, One Holy Night takes you back to the real story, not the protests or the politics, but the story of a family with a son and brother on tour of duty in Nam. J.M. Hochstetler weaves a captivating and often heart-wrenching story that is well worth the read.

Karen Eve




Books by J. M. Hochstetler

One Holy Night

Daughter of Liberty

Native Son

Wind of the Spirit 


Related Links

J. M. Hochstetler

The American Patriot Series Blog

Lamp of History Blog

Sheaf House Publishers