BOOK REVIEW: The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom

56922594Title: The Stranger in the Lifeboat

Author: Mitch Albom

Audiobook Length: 4 hours and 52 minutes

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Christian, Religion, Spirituality, Contemporary

Read Start Date: February 12, 2022

Read Finish Date: February 14, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Adrift in a raft after a deadly ship explosion, nine people struggle for survival at sea. Three days pass. Short on water, food and hope, they spot a man floating in the waves. They pull him in. “Thank the Lord we found you,” a passenger says. “I am the Lord,” the man whispers.

So begins Mitch Albom’s most beguiling and inspiring novel yet.

Albom has written of heaven in the celebrated number one bestsellers The Five People You Meet in Heaven and The First Phone Call from Heaven. Now, for the first time in his fiction, he ponders what we would do if, after crying out for divine help, God actually appeared before us? What might the Lord look, sound and act like?

In The Stranger in the Lifeboat, Albom keeps us guessing until the end: Is this strange and quiet man really who he claims to be? What actually happened to cause the explosion? Are the survivors already in heaven, or are they in hell?

The story is narrated by Benji, one of the passengers, who recounts the events in a notebook that is later discovered—a year later—when the empty life raft washes up on the island of Montserrat. It falls to the island’s chief inspector, Jarty LeFleur, a man battling his own demons, to solve the mystery of what really happened.

A fast-paced, compelling novel that makes you ponder your deepest beliefs, The Stranger in the Lifeboat suggests that answers to our prayers may be found where we least expect them.

My Review:  The summary of this book makes it sound like it is just such an inspiring book. I mean, “Now, for the first time in his fiction, he ponders what we would do if, after crying out for divine help, God actually appeared before us?” Not to spoil the book, but what happens when “the Lord” appears? Everyone in the lifeboat basically dies, commits suicide, etc. How inspiring. This is because the “Lord” can only save them if all 9 people believe that this guy is really who he claims to be i.e. God. But I guess they don’t so they all die. Nice. So the message, believe in God or die? Only when you believe in God can you be saved? Eye roll. I fail to see how this is supposed to thought provoking or emotional?

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of religious books. I read this book for the story, as a fiction novel. I had no feelings other than apathy. Even with regards to the plot the book was only just okay. The book was separated into 3 story lines: The Sea, The Land, and The News.

The Sea: 10 passengers are on a lifeboat. The luxury yacht they were on exploded and they are the only survivors. Somehow no one comes to rescue them, so they float around for weeks, months. Then each person in the lifeboat begins to die, one by one, until there is only Benji, the narrator of the story, left. This plot seems ridiculous. Why were they not rescued? The owner of the yacht was a BILLIONAIRE! Where was the cavalry?

The Land:  An inspector finds the notebook written by Benji which chronicles the time spent on the lifeboat. He is trying to figure out what happened to the ship i.e. why it exploded.

The News: Gives some background on the yacht.

I think the story could have been so much better. It just felt like the author was trying to hard to send a religious / faith message rather than worry about the plot, the character development, or whether his story actually made any sense.

Is it worth reading? Eh. I’m not sure. I guess if you have nothing else to read and are looking for something quick, then maybe give it a try. Otherwise, there are many other, better books out there.

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