Julie and John Peake both rated the book a 7. It is interesting to read the different perspectives revealed by the reviewers in their critiques below.
The critiques below by Julie and John Peake include quite a lot of plot details. You may want to delay reading the critiques until after you have read the book.
This book was very easy to read and I finished it in one sitting.
It is a haunting novel about family love and loyalties, failures, regrets and ultimate forgiveness.
When I “Googled” Mitch Albom I discovered that this story is partly autobiographical and inspired by his own mother and his relationship with her.
Much of Charles’ experiences are very similar to Mitch’s own life. His father left the family, his mother struggled to pay the bills, his mother was bossy and a bit of an embarrassment and it was only when she was reaching her 80’s that Mitch realised that he may not be able to talk to her soon and what a lot he needed to say to her.
So this book was written for her.
Mitch chose an unusual format starting when Chick almost died and going back through his life in the form of a conversation with a stranger.
Chick recounted the story of his formative years when he was torn between his mother’s love and his father’s demands. It is a story of a broken man who has tasted success, love and marriage but has lost it all through depression, remorse and alcoholism.
Then Charley decides to end it all and he can’t even get that right.
After a devastating car accident and a failed leap from the water tower Charley is near death and in that euphoric space of time he meets the ghost of his mother who died 8 years previously. Now he learns of family secrets, of his mother’s love for him and the sacrifices that she made for him, of his father’s betrayal and lastly he learns to forgive his family but most of all himself.
I enjoyed the chapters “When my mother stood up for me” and “When I did not stand up for my mother” and it is in these exerts (based on Mitch’s real experiences) that snippets made me smile.
- The mummy costume (page 40)
- The library episode (page 52)
- Father Christmas (page 76)
Thank goodness attitudes towards divorcées have changed for the better.
I was pleased to know that Charley lived for another 5 years, That meeting his mother one more time helped him to give up drinking and reconcile his differences with his daughter and wife . As he put it “if my mother said it, it must be right”
While reading this story I felt it was a bit mundane but looking back and recalling the various episodes I realised what great insight Mitch has into family relationships and life in general.
I give this book a 7
The male characters, Chick and his father, are excellent examples of men behaving badly. In contrast Chick’s mother is a paragon. As the story unfolds we learn the good and bad episodes of Chick’s life and his family. These are interspersed with the supernatural one day encounter with his dead mother.
The dominant theme is the family and how this is devastated by break-up and divorce. Chick seems unable to accept the love and ministrations of his caring mother. And, like father – like son, his own marriage fails.
We see the all too common reaction of couples with the rejection of the divorced woman, particularly by the wives. Page64 – “So to women she was a threat, to men an opportunity and to kids an oddity.” And on page 74 – “Thus my mother lost all her friends.”
Our lives include many missed opportunities. I am particularly reminded on page 153 – “… Maria asked me about the family … I couldn’t remember… our history had been buried with my mother.”
Eventually Chick receives some redemption from his encounter with his deceased mother. I’m not convinced he deserved it. Maybe the message is “There is always hope”.
I gave it a 7.