Today’s review features a recent release from Thomas Nelson fiction, The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L. Rubart. As the title suggests, it is the story of one man’s journey of finding himself again after tragedy. While it is a contemporary drama, it has mysterious fantastical elements that deepen the story and have Narnian-like implications. This made it a page-turner, for sure!
What if there was a place where everything wrong in your life could be fixed?
Corporate trainer Jake Palmer coaches people to see deeper into themselves—yet he barely knows himself anymore. Recently divorced and weary of the business life, Jake reluctantly agrees to a lake-house vacation with friends, hoping to escape for ten days.
When he arrives, Jake hears the legend of Willow Lake—about a lost corridor that leads to a place where one’s deepest longings will be fulfilled.
Jake scoffs at the idea, but can’t shake a sliver of hope that the corridor is real. And when he meets a man who mutters cryptic speculations about the corridor, Jake is determined to find the path, find himself, and fix his crumbling life.
But the journey will become more treacherous with each step Jake takes.
James L. Rubart is a master storyteller. This novel uses perhaps the most unique concept to deliver its message that I’ve read this year. At its heart is a message of HOPE. Of being enough. Finding freedom in faith and simple joy in everyday life, even when the outcome of your circumstances is not something you would have chosen for yourself. But I’m getting slightly ahead of myself here. 🙂
While our main character, Jake Palmer, spends his professional life helping other people see their true selves and the gifts they have to offer other people, he is in a season oblivious to his own talents and blessings. He also carries a bitterness and weight only revealed as the story unfolds, as we learn more of his past and personality.
It was a “journey” on my part, as the reader, to see how Jake’s time spent with his closest friends draws him out of himself as much as the mystery he’s searching for. While he resists their efforts at times, they remind him how to find joy in everyday moments. Jake had lost his own identity in a sense. This made me think about how we identify ourselves with things we do or who we’re with, when our true identity should come from God and who HE says we are: HIS, beloved, with a purpose for His glory.
With a fairytale-like otherworld promised at the end of the lake, Jake’s search for answers eventually leads him to recognize himself. Like life, it is as much about the journey as it is the destination. Tiny parallels with The Chronicles of Narnia and outright mentions of C.S. Lewis and his stories in the book will be delightful for any fan of those classics!
I could talk for paragraphs about the lake legend part of the story, but it would be full of spoilers! So, I’ll just say the revealing of this mystery is perfectly timed within the story. It is built up with a great supporting cast and foundation. If this book is anywhere on your radar, bookshelf, or TBR pile, I highly recommend you read it soon! It will bless you with its intricacies of emotion and inspiring message.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson publishers and BookLookBloggers.com for the complimentary review ecopy in exchange for my honest review.