I did warn you to expect some more Mitch Albom books on this blog and well, two weeks on here we are.
I read a review on here about The Stranger in the Lifeboat, downloaded it straight away then read I completely different Mitch Albom book (The Next person you meet in Heaven).
The review I’d read – I can’t remember whose it was, apologies if it’s yours, my memory is shocking – and the blurb stayed with me, so I picked this up quickly….
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.
You’ve got to admit that is intriguing, even if you are in no way religious, like me.
The nine people on the lifeboat are all survivors of an explosion on a luxury yacht called the Galaxy. All have lived very different lives, some are super rich, some are staff, one is a little girl who doesn’t speak.
Despite all their differences, in the aftermath of the explosion and as hopes of rescue fade, they’ve all prayed and pleaded for God to save them – something I’m guessing is a pretty universal reaction when facing death, believer or not.
After three days on the lifeboat, they pull another survivor from the sea, he claims to be the Lord and says he can save them all but only if they all believe him and believe in him….
This story is told in three different strands. The Sea, Land and News
The main narrator is Benji, a survivor on the raft, he’s writing his account in a diary. He talks about the survivors struggles, his own guilt and of course the stranger.
On Land, a year after the explosion, an empty raft washes up on Montserrat. In it, is Benji’s notebook. The island’s inspector Jarty LeFleur sets about trying to solve the mystery of the Galaxy, what happened on the lifeboat and what happened to Benji.
Interwoven with that are various news reports on the disaster which details the lives of some of the survivors on the raft.
It’s a story that moves quickly. I, like the characters kept wondering what the truth was about the stranger.
Benji and Jarty both have their own demons to deal with, both have had a crisis of faith, both are living with guilt, and both feel things are hopeless.
At the heart of this story is the question of faith. What would you do if God appeared before you at your darkest moment? Would you face your mistakes? Would you reflect on what you could have done differently? Would you still, like Benji, just generally be angry at the hand you’ve been dealt?
I really enjoyed this book, I’m not a spiritual person at all but I found the story compelling. I love how Mitch Albom writes; his books always unfold effortlessly, they’re gentle, even when there’s a huge explosion involved.
It may be heavy on message (it really isn’t subtle), it may be strange to some readers, it may feel a little too mystical but, when I finished The Stranger in the Lifeboat, I was just left with a feeling of hope and that isn’t a bad thing to take away from any book.
Have you read The Stranger in the Lifeboat? What did you think? Love it or hate it because I don’t think there’s an in-between with this one?
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm