Daniel Livingston has become comfortably numb.
The remnants of childhood abuse, a lifetime of denial, a marriage that was more contract than communion, an accident that left his right arm mangled beyond use, and ultimately, a divorce that didn’t set him free as much as it sent him freefalling into the alcohol soaked end of the male flesh-pool—because the faith end of that pool was all dried up—have all served to turn Daniel into a cleverly crafted facsimile of a happy man.
But the truth is that Daniel has always been more comfortable living the lie, so much so that he’s built his entire adult life upon the foundation of artifice and has become aggressively removed from his feelings because emotions have no place in a life in which business is business and money is the illusion of contentment. Daniel’s faith is the currency he’s forfeited because he won’t gamble on the belief that there’s such a thing as happily-ever-after. And he certainly doesn’t believe he’s worthy of an honorable and decent man like Cameron Rooney.
For Daniel to be the sort of man Cam could love, he would have to grow a conscience, but that’s easier said than done when the landscape of your life has wasted under the drought of trust and the emptiness in the expectation that if you throw enough money at people you can buy your way around having to live up—or down—to their belief of who you are. That still small voice of Daniel’s has been buried six-feet under for an awfully long time, and to exhume it means to make something entirely different of himself within the place he’s been grounded for so long. The first step in cultivating this new life is honesty, and honesty begins and ends with the sacrifice of his own future in order to spare the future of the man he loves.
Santo Ignacio is the sort of place that embraces you if it wants to keep you, sometimes in spite of whether or not that person wants to be kept, but in Daniel’s case, St. Nacho’s has about as much use for him as he has for St. Nacho’s—which is very little. There was a time when a goldmine of real estate opportunity like this sleepy seaside community would have sent the dollar signs of potential spinning in the empty vault of Daniel’s ethics, but that was before Cam, and before Daniel came to the realization that Cam’s happiness is all he needs to make himself happy. It’s the jumping off point for Daniel to prove to Cam and the entire town that the truth has set him free, and that compassion and doing what’s right can be rewarded tenfold in the end.
The St. Nacho’s series isn’t a paper world and cardboard cut-out characters. Z.A. Maxfield has dreamt of and shared with her readers the sort of place you wish truly existed, a place where you’d want nothing more than to buy a little beachfront bungalow and embrace the bold and colorful palette of people you’d be glad to call friends and neighbors. That element of connection elevated these books to something more for me than a simple way to pass the time.
This series has been yet another addiction, and another addition to the long list of books that leave me in awe of the ability to write and create. They are stories of broken men who are healed by love, kindness, and patience. They are stories of atonement and redemption, trust and faith, truth and healing. They are eminently romantic and utterly readable, in an I-couldn’t-put-them-down kind of way.
I’m not sure if this is the end or not. There isn’t a clear set-up that there’ll be more St. Nacho’s books looming on the horizon, but I sure hope there are. I’d hate to see it end so soon.
Buy The Book of Daniel HERE.