The Man He Never Was / by James. L. Rubart. 5.16.2019

Thomas Nelson ISBN 9780718099398

Adult Rating: 4

Toren Daniels thinks he’s just missed a workout with a friend when he wakes up. When he realizes he’s in a strange hotel room and the hotel staff inform him he’s been missing and presumed dead for eight months, it turns out that he’s missing a lot more. Not only that, but the titanic rage that lost him his position as an NFL player and drove him away from his family seems to have vanished. Toren starts putting things back together, hoping his wife and children will forgive him for the past. But an old friend with a grudge has returned and Toren’s search for what happened during the mysterious eight months is leading places he never expected.

Rubart doesn’t flinch from showing the visceral anger the main character feels, or from describing the abusive background he comes from and ends up creating for his own family. Ultimately though, there’s nothing gratuitous about the way Rubart describes these scenes of domestic abuse, and he makes it clear throughout the book how terrible abuse is. As hard as it is to describe abuse without giving too many details, it’s equally hard to convincingly describe a character healing and moving past those wounds, and yet Rubart excels in that area as well. Some of the book’s other elements don’t reach the same level, particularly the thriller elements which end up coming across as just a bit too implausible or hard to reconcile with the book’s theological message. However, the book still presents a vivid and even life-changing picture of pain and redemption, which makes it worth reading at least once.

  • G. Connor Salter, CLJ