Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Jacob's List by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Pamela Nolan has remained in a stale marriage to Dr Michael Nolan for the sake of their only son, Jacob. As Jacob immerses himself in college life and his "list", a quest to conquer ten adrenaline spiking experiences, Pam's reason for staying is quickly dissolving.

When tragedy strikes unexpectedly, Jacob's list is incomplete and the already distant Nolans flounder further in their rage against the man who caused their loss. Shattered, Pam seeks solace with her closest friend, Rainelle while Michael repels any form of comfort and their rift grows ever wider.

If they can overcome their sorrows and bitterness, the Nolans may discover that Jacob's list could lead them to a mountain top experience neither one believed possible.

Stephanie Grace Whitson has plumbed the depths of grief and heartache in this beautiful novel of restoration and forgiveness. Pam and Micheal's loss is agonising to read and their inability to comfort one another painfully realistic. The Novacs, dear friends of Jake, epitomise a family living out their faith and are juxtaposed brilliantly with the Nolan's in their response to grief and loss.

Jacob's List is an enthralling read with an honest and confronting look at a damaged family living with the worst loss they could experience. My heart was engaged with Pam's journey as a betrayed wife and grieving mother but Stephanie Grace Whitson's innate characterisation had me feeling just as much heartache for Michael as he confronts his own choices and their consequences. Against this backdrop and interwoven seamlessly is the story of the man responsible for the Nolan's grief and his desperation and contrition is palpable.
Providing light relief to this dramatic and intense novel are the antics of Jacob's rambunctious standard black poodle, Rambo. When all is said and done, the beauty of this novel lies not just in the destination but in the harrowing journey of a family stripped bare then lovingly restored to faith and healing.


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