Synopsis from Amazon:
‘Every family is a ghost story …’ As a child, Charley Benetto was told by his father, ‘You can be a mama’s boy or a daddy’s boy, but you can’t be both.’ So he chooses his father, only to see him disappear when Charley is on the verge of adolescence. Decades later, Charley is a broken man. His life has been destroyed by alcohol and regret. He loses his job. He leaves his family. He hits rock bottom after discovering he won’t be invited to his only daughter’s wedding. And he decides to take his own life. Charley makes a midnight ride to his small hometown: his final journey. But as he staggers into his old house, he makes an astonishing discovery. His mother – who died eight years earlier – is there, and welcomes Charley home as if nothing had ever happened. What follows is the one seemingly ordinary day so many of us yearn for: a chance to make good with a lost parent, to explain the family secrets and to seek forgiveness.
This is the first Mitch Albom book I have read, and it has placed him in high stead. This book is very easy to read. It draws you in and pulls on your heart strings a bit. It is engaging and gripping. Yes, predictable but that does not spoil the story.
Albom touches on several issues in this book – divorce, alcoholism and death – all with a good degree of success. He talks about divorce in a time where it was not the done thing, and he examines how the children were pitied and the mother was shunned. He looks at how easy it is to fall into alcohol abuse, and what damage that can cause, and he looks at death – from the reasons behind attempted suicide to dealing with unresolved issues when someone you love dies. It is only a short book but all these issues are dealt with a satisfying and sensitive way.
The story does jump around in time as Charley remembers the past, deals with guilt from always trying to please his father and learns his mother’s life story.
This is a touching book. As I said, it is predictable but a lovely book all the same, as Charley gets answers to his questions and deals with his guilt, and ultimately, gets one more day with his dear Mum. This is well worth reading. It is hard to put down and hard to criticise.
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