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Friday, March 30, 2007

Book Ten

We skipped over describing the tenth book we read so our thoughts would not come out before this month's meeting of the Literary Salon. Now that it has been fully discussed, we will catch up on Mitch Albom's For One More Day.

If you have read any of his other books, you know what to expect: a bittersweet tug at the heartstrings and an enhanced appreciation for living. Again, this is explicitly noted as based on true events, which seems superfluous, for what author's writing isn't?

A failed son, father, and baseball player decides it is time to kill himself. To no one's surprise, he also fails at suicide. But in his post-trauma delirium his dead mother returns, and they get to spend one more day together. He tags along as she meets three people, each one revealing to our failure something he had never known about his mother. Interspersed between these scenes are recollections of childhood, letters from his mother, times his mother stood up for him, and times he failed to stand up for her. He comes to understand that he chased after the love of a father who withheld it, and took for granted the love of a mother who gave it freely. He returns to life and with his newly acquired perspective is able to reconcile with his daughter and redeem himself.

This is the second book to be discussed at the Salon, and it is many times better than the Nora Roberts book. Mr. Albom writes well, controls his point-of-view, and uses excellent details to provide his story with verisimilitude unmatched by Ms. Roberts, discounting her elements of fantasy. He fully supports his premise that there is no love as pure as a mother's. We come away with a few vague possibilities as to the meaning of his statement that every family is a ghost story, but ultimately are left to wonder precisely what is meant.

The wrap-up at the end is kind of flat. One person in the Salon was mostly unmoved by the book, and wouldn't recommend it, although he would recommend The Five People You Meet in Heaven. If you fight with your mother and don't care to see her ever, you might not appreciate the sentiments in this book. If you get along well with your mother, and if you have already lost a beloved parent, you may find yourself having to pause every few chapters to wipe away the tears. For One More Day is a book that seems to do exactly what the author wanted, no more and no less. If one wants a break from A la recherche du temps perdu, this book can easily be enjoyed in one sitting, with little intellectual strain.

We give it three (out of five) pipefuls.

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