cover image Jacob’s List

Jacob’s List

Stephanie Grace Whitson, . . Bethany House, $12.99 (302pp) ISBN 978-0-7642-0326-8

Whitson wraps her latest inspirational novel around a troubled marriage and a “wish list” of adventures, with mixed results. Jacob “Jake” Nolan is a happy, adventuresome 20-year-old who has a list of 10 things he wants to do before he settles down (echoing Lisa Samson’s The Living End ). When he’s killed in an accident, his wealthy parents, Pamela and Michael, are left with only their dying marriage, Pamela’s friends and Jacob’s unfinished list. The details of the grieving process in the narrative add authenticity, but that strength is also a weakness when the novel begins to sound a little too much like grief therapy. A Hawaiian vacation doesn’t quite fit, especially when a prayer to Jesus results in cancellations so two of the characters can swim with the dolphins. Christian fiction authors have a frustrating penchant for including their previous books as part of the story line (here, Whitson’s nonfiction title, How to Help a Grieving Friend , is used as a workshop). However, themes of forgiveness, redemption and the power of friendship are nicely woven into the story. Whitson’s Christian characters believe that everything that happens—good or evil—is part of God’s plan, and the plot takes this theology to its ultimate conclusion. (Aug.)