Chapter 4 - The Stranger in the Lifeboat


Only periodically do I devote a whole blog to a specific author and today it has to be Mitch Albom. Albom originally peaked my curiosity with the first book he wrote alone, Tuesdays with Morrie. After seeing his old professor, Morrie Schwartz, on Nightline in 1995 discussing what it was like to live with ALS, Mitch Albom reconnected with him. He then wrote Tuesdays with Morrie in part to help pay for Schwartz's medical bills.


While I haven't read all of Albom's books, it seems that I have read quite a few. His books are short, could be considered inspirational, and almost always make you think - about life, love, death, and how we are as humans. Critics have disparaged his books as being too sentimental and schmaltzy and have said that your mother and grandmother would probably love them. Regardless of the millions of books Mitch Albom has sold, I think the critics miss the point of most of his books. Not only do they reflect the human condition but they also end with hope, hope that we as a species can do better. Will you get great literature from his missives? No probably not but if they make you think and entertain you even a little bit - isn't that worth a read? Here are a few of my favorites.


Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson - As mentioned above this was a story about one of Mitch Albom's professors who was living with ALS. When Albom rekindled his relationship with Morrie Schwartz he realized that the lessons the dying can teach us are about how to live.


The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Eddie is a war veteran whose job is to fix rides at a seaside amusement part. When he dies saving a child from death on a falling cart, he awakes in the afterlife just to have his life explained to him by five people who lives have touched his. Some he knows and some he doesn't but he learns just how valuable his life was.


The First Phone Call From Heaven - The small town of Coldwater, Michigan is besieged one morning by phone calls to its citizens from their relatives in heaven. Is this a miracle or some sort of sick sham? As one of its citizens returns home from prison he is determined to disprove the miracle.


For One More Day - What would you do if you were allowed to spend one more day with someone you love who has died? Charley Benetto chose to be a daddy's boy but was shattered when his father abandoned him as a teen. As an adult he is damaged goods. He has lost his family and friends and finds that his daughter has shut him out of her wedding. He tries to kill himself and fails even at that. He goes home to find his mother who has died eight years previously acting as if it was a normal day. His conversations with her unveil secrets and dreams he never knew.


The Stranger in the Lifeboat - The latest book from Mitch Albom is about an explosion aboard a luxury yacht where many celebrities and wealthy business owners have gathered to solve the problems of the world. After the explosion there is only one lifeboat in the water and the people in the boat are at various stages of trauma. Then a man comes floating toward them to get help and announces himself as "the Lord." This is a story of what if you called upon God for help and he responded by showing up in person.


Have you read any of Mitch Albom's books and if so, which ones?