December 3, 2021
Genre/Categories: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Reflection, Survival
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
What if we called on God for help and God appeared?
After a catastrophic ship explosion, a desperate group of individuals struggle to survive on a lifeboat. One of them claims to be “the Lord.” Will he help them? Save them? How will the individuals in the group react? Will they believe him? One of the passengers, Benji, keeps a journal documenting each day, reflecting on his guilt over the accident, and expressing his love for his wife. This journal is found a year later on the abandoned and empty lifeboat. This journal affects the man who found it in profound ways.
Well…..this review is difficult to write! If you’ve read the book, you know! So….here’s my nonreview review!
Lots of Discussion Possibilities: First, I think this is a book for discussion and not review. I think each person will take something different from this book and might find multiple themes to connect with personally. The Stranger in the Lifeboat would promote a grand discussion at book club!
Mystical Mitch: Fans of Mitch Albom know and are well prepared for “mystical Mitch.” I love him for bravely exploring how the soul and eternity and spiritual ideas intersect with our physical world. If you are looking for a theological answer to the “what if…” question Mitch poses, I think you need to look elsewhere. I don’t think it’s fair to expect a theologically based story when that wasn’t his intent (in my opinion).
In lieu of a traditional review, I’m simply sharing thoughts that were triggered by the following concepts and quotes:
- I do believe in an incarnate God (Emmanuel, God With Us)
- I believe that God does show up (how? through other people perhaps? through creation?) I’m fairly certain I heard God speak to me when my son had a tragic accident. It was a short phrase that I knew wasn’t from my own thoughts and I heard it (maybe not literally but I felt it) so strongly that I trusted/knew it was from God. On another occassion when I was driving along a deserted country road on the way to my father’s funeral, I felt the presence of God (or angels) so strongly that I’ll never forget the sensation.
- Mitch poses the question: “I have struggled with faith much of my life. I was a dutiful altar boy, like many Irish kids, but the church and I parted company years ago…..Too much disappointment. Not enough comfort. Still, I never considered what I would do if I called for the Lord and He actually appeared before me.”
- My favorite passage:
When asked “What do I do now?”
“Forgive yourself,” she said. “then use this grace to spread my spirit.”
“How do I do that?”
“Survive this voyage. And once you do find another soul in despair. and help them.”
- How did you do it, Benji? How did you survive all that way alone?
“I was never alone,” the man said.
- The last paragraph: “In the end, there is the sea and the land and the news that happens between them. To spread that news, we tell each other stories. Sometimes the stories are about survival and sometimes those stories, like the prescence of the Lord, are hard to believe. Unless believing is what makes them true.”
Content considerations: grief, death, rememberance and refelections of a child death, suicide, dire conditions
Recommended: I’m definitely recommending this for fans of Mitch Albom, for readers who love literary fiction and appreciate reflecting on the meaning of life and spiritual things, and for book clubs. Honestly, I’m not sure I understand everything that Mitch is trying to convey in this story, but I love his creativity, his risk taking, and his attempt to explore the meaning of life and the “what ifs.” I imagine there will be mixed reviews of this book, so you might want to check them out! I think, though, that this is a book where you will want to “see for yourself”!
What if you called out to God and he appeared?
My Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5)
Meet the Author, Mitch Albom
Mitch Albom is the author of numerous books of fiction and nonfiction, which have collectively sold more than forty million copies in forty-seven languages worldwide. He has written seven number-one New York Times bestsellers – including TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, the bestselling memoir of all time, which topped the list for four straight years – award-winning TV films, stage plays, screenplays, a nationally syndicated newspaper column, and a musical. Through his work at the Detroit Free Press, he was inducted into both the National Sports Media Association and Michigan Sports halls of fame and is the recipient of the 2010 Red Smith Award for lifetime achievement. After bestselling memoir FINDING CHIKA and “Human Touch,” the weekly serial written and published online in real-time to raise funds for pandemic relief, his latest work is a return to fiction with THE STRANGER IN THE LIFEBOAT (Harper, November 2021). He founded and oversees SAY Detroit, a consortium of nine different charitable operations in his hometown, including a nonprofit dessert shop and food product line to fund programs for Detroit’s most underserved citizens. He also operates an orphanage in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, which he visits monthly. He lives with his wife, Janine, in Michigan. Learn more at http://www.mitchalbom.com, http://www.saydetroit.org, and http://www.havefaithaiti.org.
Is The Stranger in the Lifeboat on your TBR or have you read it?
Are you a Mitch Albom fan?
Do you have a favorite book by Mitch Albom?
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