Not By Sight by Elizabeth Jacobson: Book Review

Not By Sight by Elizabeth Jacobson is a must read for both fans of biblical fiction and adult readers who wish to explore themes of purpose, forgiveness, and faith rooted in religious truth.

“There are three things God requires of those who follow Him–to act justly, to love [with] mercy, and to walk humbly in the path God has given them.”

Elizabeth Jacobson, Not by Sight: A Novel of the Patriarchs

I loved the Historical Christian novel Ruth and Naomi by Toni Sorenson, and I have wanted to add more books within the same genre to my reading list since first reading that book. I am so happy I have Elizabeth’s debut novel! Not by Sight follows the story of the biblical figure of Joseph.

Who is Joseph in the Bible?

For those unfamiliar with Joseph, or in need of a quick refresher, the story of Joseph is in the book of Genesis. The son of Rachel, Joseph was the favored son of his father Jacob. After Jacob gives Joseph a colored cloak, ten of his brothers, fueled by jealousy and anger, sold him into slavery; however, what Joseph’s brothers intended for evil, God used for good as Joseph did not remain a slave. Through God’s guidance, he rose to a powerful position in Egypt and helped save many people in light of a seven year famine.

Book Blurb and Overview

What could make a man turn to God when every event in his life screams that God has turned his back on him? Joseph, the eleventh son of the patriarch Jacob, had his father’s favor, and that was his downfall. Sold into Egypt by his enraged and jealous brothers, Joseph is left with nothing to cling to except the stories of his father’s God, a seemingly remote and unreachable figure. Faith may prove futile, but Joseph is desperate – for the very hate that enslaved his brothers has begun to overtake him.

As a Christian myself, I was familiar with the story of Joseph prior to reading Not by Sight. Written in third-person, the novel brings readers into this time in history following Joseph as a seventeen year old in Canaan to his forced trek to Egypt all the way through his thirties. Being there with Joseph as I read reminded me of a favorite childhood series of mine Alice in Bibleland (and I greatly appreciated that moment of nostalgia created in my mind).

Elizabeth does a phenomenal job relaying the main points of Joseph’s story while giving the characters emotional depth necessary for readers to connect with them. The author does mention in her note in the back of the book that some details may not be accurate, such as the presence of horses, but, from my reading, the larger plot points most definitely align with the Bible story. Overall, the story of Joseph shows how one man went from beloved to betrayed. Through his betrayal, he learned how to forgive and he learned what faith truly is. And through his faith, he became exalted and found a greater purpose than he ever imagined.

Book cover of Not by Sight by Elizabeth Jacobson.

My Review

One of my favorite things about Not By Sight by Elizabeth Jacobson is that through her narrative, we can experience the internal struggle Joseph battled. We see the natural progression of his emotions and how he comes to have a real relationship with the Lord versus simply repeating words his father Jacob shared with him. This novel allows readers to see Joseph as a real, relatable person versus some distant figure of the past. Further, we see that Joseph was not perfect as he was simply a man. He had doubts and questioned God at different points on his journey. In fact, Joseph felt bitterness and rage and sorrow for the terrible things he lived through that was outside of his control; yet, through his circumstances he decided not to feed into the negativity. He decided to make the most of his situation–he opted to bloom where he was planted.

This book allowed me to ruminate on the concepts of forgiveness, mercy, justice, and purpose. The subtle and eloquent lessons in the pages allowed me to get something out of Joseph’s story I hadn’t before. It reminds readers the truth that though we may not understand what is happening in the moment, even evil done to us can be used for God’s good. Forgiveness is something we can offer those who wrong us, because God offers us forgiveness. In addition, people can learn to be better versions of themselves. Through their decision to follow God’s teachings they can grow in His word.

Final Thoughts on Not By Sight by Elizabeth Jacobson

In conclusion, Not by Sight by Elizabeth Jacobson is a must read for adult readers. This biblical fiction novel will prompt you to think about what it really means to have faith, how we should treat those who wrong us, and how to cling to God’s grace everyday. Also, it is a perfect novel to read alongside a Bible study of Genesis chapters 37-50. I believe that pairing this with the Bible, we can strengthen discussion about Joseph and what his life’s story teaches.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, and I recommend adult readers add it to their shelves today!

TW: There are no graphic scenes depicted on page. But there are references to assault and executions which is why I recommend for adult readers specifically.

Connect with Author Elizabeth Jacobson

You can connect with Elizabeth on her website or find her on Instagram. Be sure to order your own copy of Not By Sight on Amazon or your favorite book retailer!

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Published by Kayla E. Green

Kayla E. Green is a school librarian, speculative fiction author, and poet. When she isn’t writing, reading, or going on adventures with her husband, she loves singing loudly and off-key to KLove Radio, snuggling her dogs, and pretending she’s a unicorn. Her award-winning YA fantasy novella, Aivan: The One Truth, and her inspirational poetry collection, Metamorphosis, are now available through book retailers. Kayla also has stories and poems featured in various anthologies. Follow The Unicorn Writer's blog for book reviews, author interviews, writing advice, and more bookish fun!

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