Thursday, April 14, 2011

Book Review: The Journey

***The winner of the giveaway hop will be announced Friday night. Thanks to the many people who participated in this event bringing awareness to Autistic Spectrum Disorders.****

The Journey    By, Joel Peterson

Like any typical College Freshman, Peter had high hopes for where his four year degree would take him. He certainly didn't expect to be where he is now. Following a tragic death in the family, Peter's life falls into place. He doesn't. Previously guided by his dreams and aspirations, he doesn't know what to do when he reaches the end of a journey. The man he failed to know becomes center stage and he seeks reunion with a life he left behind. But what if it's all only a dream? The Journey is a coming of age tale and call narrative for the 21st Century that seeks to find the answers behind life, love, and music.
Paperback, 280 pages
Published December 9th 2010 by CreateSpace

Let me start by saying I was extremely impressed by Joel Peterson. Mr. Peterson wrote this book in 2009 as part of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Even more impressive is that Mr. Peterson is just starting college, his writing and his subject matter convey the presence of a much older man. That being said, please be aware that this book is at heart a Christian book. It explores the meaning in life from a conservative Christian standpoint and takes an in-depth look at how God calls us in our lives. His use of dreams as metaphor is hardly a new perspective, but he uses his own twist to make it unique.

After a normal and somewhat boring four years of college, where he didn’t live up to his own expectations, Peter finds himself the music director in a small church. In a even smaller Maine town. To say he felt lost is an underestimate. He is questioning the path his life has taken, and is down on himself for his perceived lack of social skills. He constantly thinks about a girl he knew in college, a girl he was in love with but never asked out. His life is busy, and he is in a successful jazz ensemble, but he feels something is missing. Than he starts having these dreams. He fells God is calling him to something bigger, but can’t figure out what. The dreams get stranger and increasingly more real, and Peter finds himself starting to realize that shutting out personal relationships is hurting him in his relationship with God. As the dreams go on, Peter realizes he doesn’t even know when he is awake anymore.

This book was well written, in places. At times in the middle I forgot I was reading fiction, it seemed more like a memoir. Mr. Peterson raises questions of faith and devotion in the modern world in a simple and non preaching way. His book paints a vivid picture of today’s young adults as they struggle to find a place where they fit in. That being said, I got a little lost at times. He jumps around a little, and I never really got who’s death it was that triggered his crippling depression. (Although I suspect it was his grandfather, the death was never actually mentioned.) It was this crippling depression that put Peter into his dream world. In fact, spoiler alert, in the end his whole narrative turns out to be a dream. I felt the book ended a little abruptly, I would have liked a little closure for Peter. There were also pieces of dialog between two “non beings”. I felt like they weren’t needed in the story, and found them kind of distracting. You never really found out why they were there, unless I was missing something. The text was enhanced by the various quotes Mr. Peterson placed at the beginning of each chapter. They served to emphasize the meaning of each chapter, and worked well. It is my understanding that this book was written during a difficult period in the author’s life, that he was facing the same kind of depression that his main character is. It is this emotional connection that allows the book to touch the reader on a deeper level. You can feel the sincerity and emotion flow through the page. And in the end it is that experience that enables him to convey the value of a personal relationship with God.

All in all Mr. Peterson’s freshman novel is one he should be proud of. He takes a complex plot and works it well. Writing a novel in one moth is hard, and I commend him for it.

Joel Peterson is a student, armature writer, bloger, musician, and pastor’s kid who currently lives in the Pittsburgh area. The Journey can be found on More info on National Novel Writing Month can be found on their web site

I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair review.

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