Book Review: N by Stephen Santos

Posted April 9, 2017 by meezcarrie in Stephen Santos / 2 Comments

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about the book

The first installment in The Compass Series.

This book will challenge the way you see your life, family and the what’s truly important in life. It is the beginning of a journey with 3 books following that encourage the reader to see things from all directions.

In a world filled with stories of broken roads, and broken relationships, Joshua’s story asks the question; How long should you wait for true love?

After carrying his bride through the hardest time in her life, he finds himself with what feels like empty hands. He must now journey through the painful process of a change he did not deserve.

Fighting for the well being of his two children he uncovers the value of surrendering things that feel important and grasping for the things that truly are.

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SERIES: The Compass Series #1
GENRE: Inspirational Fiction
RELEASE DATE: April 12, 2016
PAGES: 163

“…true love is not just a declaration of love, but the walking it out.”

N by Stephen Santos is a picture of grace, a story of a husband’s faithful pursuit and a wife’s unfaithful journey. It’s a tale of love, of marriage, of family, but ultimately it is a portrait of Jesus and His unshakable love for us.

As a picture of grace and Jesus – despite our faithlessness – N is a poignant reminder that Jesus is faithful even when we are not. With shades of the Biblical book of Hosea, the author weaves a story of a bride whose affections easily turn away and a husband who continues to love her in spite of her hurtful decisions. It goes against human nature … and precisely so. Because only God can have this kind of love, and only He can love somebody that way through us.

This story is written through Joshua’s point of view, in first person as though he’s writing a journal or sitting down to talk it over with us. Joshua, the husband, has helped his wife through a serious health battle and now that they’re on the other side of that struggle she tells him she’s leaving him and taking their kids. Future books in the series will tell this same story again, each from someone else’s perspective. I think this is really unique and creative!

As a novel on its own merits, however, N needs a little tightening. The writing is technically fine but overall it needed more layers, more dimension. As a result, I didn’t connect emotionally with any of the characters; most seemed one-dimensional when it came to making devastating declarations and in reacting to them. Joshua never seemed to “get” why Bridget left him, why she struggled in their marriage, and most of his thoughts put all the blame on her. (I do realize, though, that this story is from his POV and we may get another side of things when we get Bridget’s perspective.)

I’m not condoning Bridget’s decision either, though. She decided abruptly to leave, to take the kids, etc. and made some drastic changes in what felt like a short amount of time. But when she tells him, “If you would’ve just provided a safe place for us, a place where I didn’t have to worry about the things I worried about, then I wouldn’t have felt like I needed to go look for it somewhere else”, his response really should have been more than “What happened to not worrying..?” Neither of them wanted to take responsibility for the problems in their marriage, and until they both do (not just one of them) there won’t be true healing.

Bottom Line: N by Stephen Santos works best as an allegory, as a representation of what Jesus does for us. It’s a bittersweet reminder that just because the grass looks greener on the other side, it usually isn’t. Yet, I felt like it was missing the needed dimensionality to really make this a powerful story. All the elements are there – it just needs to get inside the characters’ hearts and motivations and personalities a bit more. I’m still looking forward to the next book in this unique series, to see the alternate points of view as well as to watch the author continue to develop the characters.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 3 stars / Intriguing concept!

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about the author

Stephen, his wife and five children moved from Pennsylvania where he was born and raised, to Northern California, where he wrote this series.  He and his family currently resides in North Carolina.  He has done everything from carpentry to writing and recording music; from teaching children who did not have a stable home-life to washing the dishes at his own home; and from leading his kids on adventures in the woods to loving his neighbors, whoever they may be.  He has been on a journey for years now, discovering that it is not about the “What” we do in life.  It is about the “How” we do whatever has been given us to do.

He finds great joy in sharing his own story with others; the one where he was led out of religion by Love.

And to this end he writes books, he writes songs, he swings a hammer, he serves and loves his family, he encourages those around him, he prays for broken hearts and broken bodies. But more important and precious to him than any of that, he walks and talks with his friend Jesus about all of it.  He has become convinced that if he does everything while walking with Jesus, he will truly have the privilege and blessing of The Abundant Life.


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