by Jim Sano
Reviewed by Edmund P Adamus
This is the title of the recent novel by author Jim Sano in the United States. I came across the news of the book whilst on Twitter one day early in the Summer and decided to order a copy for holiday reading. I wasn't disappointed. The Father's Son has all the hallmarks of a good Catholic novel. What do I mean by that? It's a story whose lead character has to undergo a journey of deep and sometimes very difficult and challenging twists and turns as he searches for the truth about himself, his family and most of all his place in the world and ultimately his relationship with the Father in Heaven.
Whatever our own relationship is or may have been with our earthly fathers, this novel reminds us that despite the failings and even terrible sins of our fathers, there is no more crucial and life-saving, life-giving relationship than the one we all have and must forge day by day, moment by moment, crisis through crisis with God the Father.
Jim Sano has written a wonderful story of the power of faith, friendship, trust, loyalty, mercy, forgiveness and the mystical power of suffering.
What I found most captivating about the story as it unfolds is not just the journey in self discovery and faith of the principal character, David; but the fact that he is aided and beautifully assisted in this journey by the intelligent and intentional disciple in the person of Father Tom. Tom is the amiable and conscientious parish priest, whose zeal for souls and for the totality of Catholic truth indicates through the pages of this book the incredible power God can wrought through the faithful ministry of good priests.
Jim Sano presents some fantastic apologetics in this story by using discussions over friendly exchanges in bars and restaurants to help the inquisitive reader explore some of the most searching questions that many people have about the Church and especially the oft-repeated mantras of criticism and outright anger towards Her teachings.
Whilst I personally do not have such misgivings about my faith and the Catholic Faith, I sympathize with those who do, often through no fault of their own, have either had no formation or some times malformation in Catholic belief and worship. I commend Jim Sano for articulating arguments for the Faith not just in a style that is accessible to the reader but for setting those persuasive arguments in the context of everyday scenarios and settings that most people can relate to and identify with - (though I have to confess my own lack of knowledge of basket ball felt like an obstacle at times)
So, could I imagine myself drawing upon some of the material in this book for conversations I might have with my own friends or family or random social encounters in bars or restaurants ? Absolutely and often. I am particularly grateful for Sano's helpful definition of the differences between self-esteem and self-awareness and how knowing these differences within the context of therapy, counseling and self-improvement are incredibly useful for anyone to know and be aware of especially, if by God's grace and the action of the Holy Spirit one might be called upon to advise and encourage others; those spiritual works of mercy to counsel the doubtful, admonish the sinner and comfort the afflicted.
In the end "The Father's Son" is precisely that, a story about the actions of the Holy Spirit at work in human life and events and how that inestimable grace can prompt us to pursue pathways of exploration and discovery we never thought possible nor anticipated. 'God is good' as we Christians so often say. Jim Sano has simply written a beautiful story that proclaims just that. Read this book. You will be blessed by it. Gift it to another especially anyone you know who struggles in their faith or has serious doubts or unresolved hurts from the past.