Book Review: The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom

“Beginnings and endings are earthly ideas. I go on. And because I go on, you go on with me. Feeling loss is part of why you are on Earth. Through it, you appreciate the brief gift of human existence, and you learn to cherish the world I created for you. But the human form is not permanent. It was never meant to be. That gift belongs to the soul.”

― Mitch Albom, The Stranger in the Lifeboat

The renowned number one bestsellers "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" and "The First Phone Call from Heaven" by Albom both contain passages about heaven. Now, for the first time in his fiction, he considers what we would do if God truly appeared to us after we cried out for his aid. The Stranger in the Lifeboat is a fast-paced, gripping book that makes you consider your deepest beliefs and indicates that sometimes the answers to our prayers may be discovered in the most unexpected places.

Synopsis from Mitch Albom's website...

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.

My reaction to this novel...

When I first read The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom, I fell in love with reading his works, and ever since then, I've been in awe of him. He has several novels that left me thinking and even crying. I foreseen that this book would affect me in the same way, and I was right to assume that it would since I experienced a wide range of emotions that I hadn't anticipated.

To be honest, the setting of the book initially made me hesitant to read it. Since I'm terrified of the water and sharks in particular, I assumed from the title that they were stranded in the middle of the sea and that sharks may be lurking around. I was terrified because I had a vivid imagination. Even if I won't be able to see the shark with my own eyes, I can still imagine it in great detail, so I really consider whether I'll be able to read and finish it. I repeatedly questioned my ability to succeed in it, but I ultimately chose to move forward because I felt compelled to. Perhaps this will mark the beginning of my gradual fear-overcoming process.

I'm very anxious about what's going on after hours of reading. The novel has several shark-related sequences, which made me feel utterly afraid. My pulse rate dramatically increased, and I had to stop reading frequently because my imagination about what was occurring in the novel was running amok and I felt like drowning. Although that would sound absurd to others, it is how I am experiencing. As it turned out, my reading slowed down because I was so terrified of what my mind was showing me.

After the difficulties of reading and the anxiety of not knowing what happened next in the novel, I was pleased when I eventually completed it. I really tried to picture what would happen if I were stuck in the boat while everyone else was dying. Because I'm so terrified of being surrounded by bodies of water, I may be the first person to faint as a result of the horrifying vision that keeps popping into my thoughts. What more if there are sharks nearby? Perhaps I'll have a heart attack. Even though I'm terrified, I did my best to complete the book because I know that if God is with me, He will not allow it to happen. He will protect me, and I believe in Him.

The storyline twist in this airy novel is intriguing. It offers a life lesson that everyone should consider, much like Albom's other novels. Mitch Albom's writing is straightforward but extremely effective. Rarely does a book cause me to pause and consider the faith I hold. When we have faith that God is with us, everything will be overcome, including the challenges we perceive to be insurmountable, it seems, even though we are stranded and feel it is impossible to overcome the challenges in our life, He will always be with us. Similar to how surviving seems impossible in this novel. I'm inconsolable just thinking about it; what more to those who have experienced anything like this? It is very appalling. And all we should need to cling to during such terrifying times is God and His words.

The tale was fantastic, but there were a lot of occasions when I felt scared. I don't usually finish anything like this that involve large expanses of water. The stranger in the lifeboat is one of the decent but weak characters that contribute to the story's ongoing conflict. Give it a try if you want an interesting yet terrifying book with a life lesson at the end. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

My Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨(4.5/5)

“...the stories we tell ourselves long enough become our truths.”

This is absolutely true. The same is true of the lies that certain people propagate. If you keep saying them, eventually you'll wake up one day believing what you've been saying. Some people continue to tell others the tales they wished to believe, even while they are aware that the events they are recounting did not actually take place. Then those stories and lies will ultimately trump their recollections, turning them to become the things they actually experienced. 

Where to buy this book...


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