The Road Home The Road Home
The story of the prodigal son

J John
ISBN 1904726534 (9781904726531)
Authentic, 2005, £5.99

Gift Edition (Padded Hardback): ISBN 1904726321,
Epiphany Publications, 2005, £10
Available from Philo Trust

Category: Evangelism & Mission

Some books take hold of you and won't let you go. Others let you go and then welcome you back like a long lost friend — or in this particular case, like a long lost son. It's rare to find a book that does both but somehow that's precisely what J John has given us here: The Road Home is a book to read in a single sitting (at only 96 pages it shouldn't take too long for most readers) yet it's also a book to take slowly, to savour, to think about and return to.

I'll admit that I thought I knew the story of the prodigal son. I've long admired Rembrandt's famous painting of the son's homecoming. This retelling, however, brings even more out of the story. It's told from the point of view of one Francis Nutrizio, the Steward of the Salvadori Estate. He's a respectable man from a respectable family but whose family met tragedy and left him orphaned. Taken into the staff of the Salvadori household he serves to the best of his ability: he understands the principles of honour and nobility and admires his master's generous spirit in dealing with the common people. Until, that is, the day his master's youngest son rebels and his master gives in to the son's demands.

If you're familiar with the original story told by Jesus (Luke 15: 11-32) you'll know what those demands were: rather than wait for his father to die, he wanted his portion of the inheritance now. Getting it, he leaves without a care in the world.

In the original we hear nothing of the impact this departure had on the father, his family, his neighbours. Here, however, through Nutrizio's account, J John explores the wider story, inviting us to share the bewilderment and sorrow of those affected by the father's bizarre decision, but even more, to enter the father's own heart, to share the incredible sense of joy when at last the son returns — as well as the alienation and anger of the older son.

If you've ever struggled with forgiveness, with believing that God can forgive you or with forgiving someone else yourself, if you've ever watched someone forgive the unforgiveable and felt yourself pushed aside by that forgiveness, you need to read this book.

And if you've been forgiven, know the joy of that forgiveness and want to share it with another, I can think of no better book to choose as a gift for that person. It may be a long road home, but once it's been travelled, you'll never want to look back.

The Philo Trust


Phil Groom, May 2005

Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.

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