The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom – Book review

The Stranger in the Lifeboat was a perfect Sunday afternoon read. It’s the new novel by Mitch Albom, known for having a philosophical spin to his writing. This is very much that – a religious parable in a modern day setting.

Opening sentence: When we pulled him from the water, he didn’t have a scratch on him.

In the first narrative within the book, Benji is writing in a notebook to his wife Annabelle, recording his possible last days stuck on a life raft after the huge luxury yacht – the Galaxy – he’s working on as a deckhand, sinks.

Owned by Jason Lambert, the yacht was on a particularly special voyage when it went down – a guest list of some of the most famous mover, shakers and thinkers in the world.

Ten people from the yacht end up in Benji’s lifeboat, and they also pull a mysterious stranger from the waves who claims to be God…

When he didn’t answer, Nina touched his shoulder and said, ‘Well thank the Lord we found you.’

Which is when the man spoke.

‘I am the Lord,’ he whispered.

What happened to the Galaxy?

The second storyline takes place a year after Benji’s narrative. On the Caribbean island of Montserrat, policeman Jarty LeFleur deals with the report of a raft from the Galaxy that’s washed up on a remote beach. He goes to investigate and…

There, sealed in a plastic bag, was the remains of a notebook.

Yes, he finds Benji’s notebook and goes on a mission to piece together what really happened when the yacht sank. Along with some news report chapters, the tantalising details are revealed.

The Stranger in the Lifeboat was actually more exciting than I was expecting. Without doing it a disservice, I thought it might veer into the worthy religious parable territory, which yes, it essentially does, but it’s the non-preachy way that Mitch Albom delivers his story that makes it so readable.

Plus, it has a cracking plot that keeps revealing new information at just the right moments and definitely has that all-important page-turning quality, I really enjoyed it!

This book is about people struggling with faith, making the idea of God fit in today’s world when there is so much injustice, tragedy and loss, it is about survival, each person finding their significance and place in the world, it’s about redemption and hope.

I’m not an overly religious person, but I did leave this book feeling a sense of warm comfort. After all, sometimes you just have to believe.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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