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.

BOOK REVIEW: I’ve Never Met a Dead Person I Didn’t Like by Sherri Dillard

42789300Title: I’ve Never Met a Dead Person I Didn’t Like

Author: Sherri Dillard

Book Length: 200 pages

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Religion, Spirituality

Read Start Date: April 9, 2019

Read Finish Date: April 28, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: The extraordinary travels of a young, alone and broke psychic. The heart-warming and adventurous true story of a young woman on her own at age seventeen, broke and surrounded by talkative spirits that don’t want to go away. Living in-between the physical world and the spirit realm, yet feeling a stranger in both, Sherrie Dillard criss-crossed the country by bus, train and hitchhiking in a search for answers. Along the way she was led to help the poor and homeless on skid row, install water systems in Mayan Indian villages, live alone in a tent in the mountains and make art with juvenile offenders. It was in these diverse environments that she came face to face with saints, angels and dark spirits and learned to trust her psychic ability. From her early secret encounters with spirits who guided and ultimately saved her life, Sherrie Dillard finally accepted that what made her different and odd, was also her greatest gift. I’ve Never Met A Dead Person I Didn’t Like, is a powerful story for anyone who listens to – or doubts their own intuition and the presence of their loved ones on the other side. Even in our darkest hour, in the depths of loneliness and overwhelming challenges, divine guidance and miracles are always present.

My Review: The Goodreads plot description actually makes the book sound much better than it is. I had high expectations and was disappointed. I received this book from a publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I think that I received the book because I had written a good review of Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest. My review of that book is here.

I did not know that this book was a religious book, otherwise I never would have read it. I was totally open to believe that the author saw ghosts, until that is, she said that she sees the spirit of “Mary”, angels and saints. I was immediately turned off and became a disbeliever in her “psychic” ability. I also found her Mayan spirit “Tetchuwatchu” to also be unbelievable. I googled the name and literally nothing came up. Is it even possible that google doesn’t know something? The author claims that the name means “teach you watch you”, but I mean come on. Are we really supposed to believe that the ancient Mayans had names that sound like the English meaning of their Mayan name? “Techtu” in Mayan means “teach you” in English? Highly doubtful.

Do I believe that the author has stronger intuition and instincts than most people? Sure, it’s possible. Who doesn’t get bad feelings sometimes when danger is present. I could even believe that the author believes she sees these spirits, but it just didn’t seem realistic to me.

I am going to have to give this book 2.5 stars. I am really on the fence as to whether to give it 2 or 3 stars. In the end I really just struggled to finish this book. I definitely would have given her book 3 stars had it not been for the religious aspect. Overall the book was, for my taste, too spiritual and not paranormal enough. However, if I were open to religion or spiritual topics, then maybe I would have liked this book better. That is to say, please don’t totally discount this book based solely upon this review.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.