What if You Call Out for the Lord and He Answers?
Please note that I am now an Affiliate Marketer on Amazon. This means my book reviews will include a link to the book on Amazon. If you purchase the book using my link, I will earn a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you. More details here. Thank you for supporting my Book Blog in this manner.
This was a very easy and engaging book to read. I will say up front that it had many gaps in the logic, but it was compelling enough to want to keep reading in spite of these plot problems. I got hooked in the very first chapter as I learned about the Galaxy, a luxury yacht that sank in the book’s first pages. There are evidently survivors – both wealthy guests and crew – and they are in a lifeboat. It is three days post explosion that another survivor is spotted and pulled into the lifeboat. Three days?! How did he survive in the ocean for so long? What about the sharks? Even more curious, he did not have a scratch on him whereas all the other survivors have gashes and bruises. When another survivor says to him, “Well, thank the Lord we found you,” he responds by saying, “I am the Lord.”
This response got my attention because it smacks of one of my all-time favorite books, Illusions, by Richard Bach, the guy famous for Jonathan Livingston Seagull. In Illusions, we have a god figure who has come to earth to explain life and death to a mere mortal. I am a sucker for that storyline. And here, Mitch Albom seems to be bringing me that exact thing.
The Stranger in the Lifeboat is only 275 pages long and has a boatload (forgive me) of sections and chapters – 13 and 55 respectively. A short book with short chapters is another favorite “genre” for me. It allows me to read the whole thing in a day. I gobble those chapters up like I do a bag of potato chips – can’t just read/eat one!
And so the story begins with survivors and the Lord – or maybe not the Lord – in a lifeboat. From there, chapters alternate between three topics: the Sea, the Land, and the News.
The chapters at sea count the days and mounting deaths for the passengers in the lifeboat. The land chapters are set almost a year later when a lifeboat with the Galaxy’s insignia washes ashore some two thousand nautical miles away from where the ship sank. It is empty of people but oddly holds a handwritten journal from one of the passengers. As for the news chapters, they fill us in on breaking developments. From reports of the goings-on of the rich and famous cruisers as they cruised, to a news report halted mid-sentence as the explosion happens, to obituaries of all the famous folks who died, and finally to the shocking news of finding the lifeboat a year later. This finally launches a full exploration of what happened to the Galaxy, also reported by the news.
As I said, I really liked this book and gobbled it up. BUT…
- I had trouble with the idea the journal. That a journal and a pen existed in the first place, that someone would write and write in it under such dire circumstances, and that it could survive the two-thousand-mile journey back to land.
- The year-long delay in doing a full exploration of what happened to the Galaxy troubled me. There were lots of wealthy folks on board including a past president of the United States. Huh? No immediate search for answers??!!!
- And when they finally figured out what happened to the Galaxy, I was not sure that problem could have brought the yacht down.
- As a writer, I had some problems too. We are told to show and not tell as we write, so allowing the newscasters to give the back stories of those lost at sea seemed like cheating. I’d complain about the telling-as-opposed-to-showing nature of using a journal too, except I used a journal in my latest book…
As I said, I really liked this book and gobbled it up. BUT…now you know a few of the BUTS.
In closing here is one more. I love when a book gets reviewed by one of the big publications like the Washington Post. And if it’s the Washington Post, I love when the reviewer is Ron Charles!! Well to my delight, he did indeed review this book! BUT he panned it for lots of sound reasons.
Still and all, I liked it.
After you read it, let me know what you think. Are you in my boat or Ron Charles’?
I’m glad you found this book review and I hope you loved it. If so, check out my book blog – there are more than 150 reviews for you to explore, with more to come. I publish about three dozen reviews a year.