Monday, August 22, 2016

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L. Rubart

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L. Rubart

I’ve long enjoyed reading Jim’s books, so I was excited to see this new one.

Let’s begin with the summary:

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.

And now, my review:

I savored this book. I was hooked from the opening pages and by the middle of chapter two I was enthralled. Jim didn’t save the “good stuff”—revelations for readersuntil the end, but peppered takeaway throughout.

One of the themes in the story is the ability to be objective about ourselves and see our identity through the haze of lies or fears we believe about ourselves.

Jake Palmer is a corporate trainer. He holds seminars on “reading each other’s labels” and finding out “what’s in your bottle.” But what the author did was address the universal hunt for our own identities. Who are we, as individuals? And what stands in our way from seeing ourselves as we truly are and then living in that reality? Occasionally others see us better that we see ourselves. They see our strengths and abilities more clearly than we do.

Sometimes toxic shame gets in the way. (Toxic shame is shame for who you are; basic shame is feeling badly about what you’ve done.) Jake grew up being told from authority figures, whom children tend to believe without question, that he wasn’t enough. This story is about him coming to grips with that lie because ironically the whole time he’s been coaxing people out of their hiding places into being who they truly are, he’s been hiding.

Another universal theme: people can get tangled up in regrets. These paralyze us and hold us in one place, preoccupying our time and energy. We sometimes want to go back to a certain moment and change it, and the fact that that’s impossible doesn’t keep us from ruminating on what we’d do differently or berating ourselves for not doing something differently in that moment. Those regrets and ruminations can be based in something we did, or something others did to us. That entanglement can hold us captive for years, even our whole lives, keeping us from living out our destinies or seeing our worth. The hook in this story is the promise of a place where Jake could go where what was wrong in his life could be made right. He could get back what he’d lost.  

The author, like life, presents readers with a choice: keep hiding or face our stuff and learn to move forward without shame. But there will be a fight, and the choice to do battle is only the first difficult thing to overcome.

I’ve come to expect Jim’s work to include the supernatural, which this novel does around the mysterious corridor and person he finds there. I also loved the Superman references; the NW lake setting; the Narnian references, the friendship group; the affirmation-based story; the psychological study; the battle to choose hope; and the call to discover, embrace, and walk in our true identities.

This was one of my favorite reads this year. A life-changing novel that will stick with readers long after they finish.

Highly recommended.  

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