Every now and again, there's a time when a book completely blindsides me as far as the respective story and characterization goes. I didn't really know what to expect from Tamra Torero and Preston Nortons's "The Lost Son" - even when I'd read one of Torero's previous MG/YA books before, "Shayla Witherwood". Going into it, I didn't think I'd follow its protagonist, Jacob very well. Right off the bat, he's a bit of an unlikable guy. He gets in fights at the drop of a hat, he's rather polarizing in his relationships, and to make matters worse, he gets behind the wheel one fateful night while drunk and ends up with a death on his conscience - the death of a boy named Cody Matthews.At first, Jacob's actions don't sink in, even when (instead of a much harsher punishment) he's sent to work at a family Christmas tree farm for the man whose son Jacob killed. Yet the story progresses into a surprising coming to terms and remarkable change for Jacob, not only with respect to the grief he feels over his actions, but also in the relationships he builds with the family and friends that Cody left behind. I honestly did not expect to find myself caring as much for these characters as I did. While the novel itself is short, it packs a lot of heart and character focus in its dynamic. I was engaged with this novel from beginning to end, and I did appreciate that this novel was never too heavy handed with either its respective messages, focus on spirituality, and coming to terms. It's not an unfamiliar story, but it's nonetheless heartwarming, and absolutely perfect for a holiday read. I personally really enjoyed this work and would not hesitate to recommend it, or check into more of their respective works.Overall score: 4/5Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Sweetwater Books.