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Jacob's List Paperback – September 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
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"...makes Christians exam their lives.... this book would be enlightening and challenging for all adults and particularly for parents." -- Khrista Beckmann, Christian Book

"Jacob's List by Stephanie Grace Whitson is a book that captures your heart and pierces your soul." -- Maisha Walker,

"Stephanie Grace Whitson has set a new paradigm for Christian authors with Jacob's List." -- Kelly Klepfer,

"Whitson's carefully thought-out dialogue and development of Pam and Michael Nolan's characters allow readers to identify with their pain." -- Jodi Fuson, Lincoln Journal Start

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764203266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764203268
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,511,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephanie Grace Whitson has made a career out of playing with imaginary friends, and it all started in an abandoned pioneer cemetery. This one's graves are scattered on a tiny corner of land near where the Whitson family lived in the 1990s. That cemetery provided not only a hands-on history lesson for Stephanie's four home schooled children but also a topic of personal study as she began to read about and be encouraged by the pioneer women who settled the American West. Since writing had always been a favorite hobby, it was only natural for her to begin jotting down scenes in the life of a nameless woman crossing Nebraska on the Oregon Trail. Eventually that story took on a life of its own and Stephanie sent off a query letter--expecting instant rejection.

God had a different plan. He blessed Stephanie's beginnings, putting two of her three first books on the ECPA best-seller list and making two of her first nine books finalists for the Christy Award. More recently (in 2012) she received Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best Inspirational Romance. In addition to writing (she has authored more than two dozen books), Stephanie loves antique quilts and pioneer women's history and riding her Honda Magna motorcycle named Kitty. A lifelong student, she earned her Master of Arts degree in history in 2012.

"The flip side of writing," Stephanie says, "is being asked to teach writing and/or speak at various church and community events." She has developed a menu of lectures and workshops that "provide opportunities for me to travel and get to know not only other writers and history lovers, but also students and quilters. I love sequestering myself in a library to do research, but the speaking part of my career has provided some unique and wonderful memories."

And then there's Kitty, the Honda Magna. "In some ways I'm 60," she says, "in others I'm probably about 26. It all depends on the day." On days when her virtual age leans toward the younger side of that equation, she's been known to wake up in the morning and decide to ride Kitty to Canada. And then she comes home and descends to "the catacombs" (the basement office in her Victorian-era house) and heads back into the past to play with more imaginary friends.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
Beautifully written and highly recommended.
Stephanie Grace Whitson provides a well written primer on HOW TO HELP A GRIEVING FRIEND cope through the barely surviving Nolans.
Harriet Klausner
It can offer a new way of looking at the trials in our lives.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Novel Reviews on October 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
Stephanie Grace Whitson has set a new paradigm for Christian authors with Jacob's List. I don't want to give any of this hard-hitting story away, so this review will be short. But Whitson has delivered a portrayal of emotions so realistic in characters so life-like, I experienced them with Pam and Michael.

But what stayed with me the most was the conversion scene. It was one of the most natural conversions I've read. No manipulation, no voices in the sky, no renewed instant joy, no dramatic anything. Just an honest choice brought about by the circumstances.

How life-like. How believable. And something a non-Christian could perhaps relate to?
This is one book I will give to a friend who is grieving a lost marriage. It's a book of hope. And forgiveness. A book this reviewer gives her highest recommendation.

By the way, you'll love Rambo. Now if I could only get my dog to do the things he does.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan
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Format: Paperback
Pam and Michael have just received the worst news that no parent ever wants to hear. Their only child has been killed. The estranged couple now must deal with coping with their son's death, and their feelings toward the man who killed him. Their relationship together also requires a second outlook. Everything in their lives must be reexamined from past battles with cancer, to affairs, to matters of faith, to dealing with Jacob's "second family." Then there is the matter of Jacob's list- the things he wanted to do before he died and how they will now accomplish these tasks for him.

This was a really thought provoking and sad book. It shows all the parties that are affected by an accidental death, from the parents to the man who caused the accident, to his wife, to the officer who found the accident, to his family, to even the grave keepers. The characters really stay with you after reading. You feel their struggles and their anger and pain. But amid all the sadness there are several moments of laughter in this book with the Novac family. I liked the meatloaf talk and the Ninja night. That was really awesome reading about how that family helped out those in need. I also really liked Rambo! From his description, I kept imagining a small cute little poodle, but then looking on the author's website it appears that Rambo is one of the big tall poodles! So that completely changed my image of him! But I love at how obedient he is and how he listens to Pam and Mike and even suffered when Jacob died. I was thinking though, from the cover and the summary on the back, that Jacob's parents were going to take over his list and do everything that he couldn't. So it confused me when I was getting near the end of the book and they still hadn't fully made up yet.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth A. Hart on April 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
When you lose a child it is considered "the worst loss". For the Nolans the loss of their son doesn't just risk destroying their world, it also risks tearing them apart, as he was the only thing that was keeping them together.

It can take up to two years before parents can even think about getting over the loss of their child. In Jacob's List this is shortened a little for literary license but the very real grief and devastation that these parents felt. A lot of my expectations were blown away by it.

Keep in mind this is a Christian novel. There were a lot of Christian themes and both parents are profoundly affected by a transformation in Christ that is one of the main themes of the book. I appreciated that a lot of the biblical conversion stuff was saved until later in the novel so that you could get wrapped up in the story first. I was irked that it was implied that the only way they could really expect full healing and forgiveness was through Christ, a common Christian theme but I personally am open to other options if it helps people.

I also personally felt that the African American character was painted and wielded very awkwardly by the author. I think the character was depicted in an over the top manner in an attempt to accentuate the novel's racial diversity. This was damaged a bit by the fact that, when it came right down to it, the Christian acquaintance was more of a help in her time of her need than her (non-Christian) friend for life. There were also a few other subtle snubs to this (sexually active in a committed relationship, feminist) "friend" throughout that I didn't really appreciate.

As for the positives, I did think that the depression and suffering experienced by the Nolans was very well drawn and very realistically portrayed.
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Format: Paperback
Whitson performs beautifully in JACOB'S LIST, delivering a story of pain and promise, hurt and hope.

After the tragic and sudden death of their son, Jacob, Michael and Pam Nolan, on the brink of divorce, begin a gut-wrenching grief journey that slowly, but surely reawakens their love for one another.

Far from contrived, Whitson's words are realistic and timely. While there are no easy, trite answers given, through interaction with friends and caring neighbors, the Nolans are able to navigate their grief with God at the helm, with all the angst, fear, and doubt that one might expect in such a time of loss.

Masterfully delivered by an author who knows what it is to lose someone you love. -Eileen Rife, author of WHEN MOURNING COMES, LIVING THROUGH LOSS When Mourning Comes: Living Through Loss
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