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Sunday, November 21, 2021

Book Review: The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom

BOOK review
Started on: 6 November 2021
Finished on: 12 November 2021
Title: The Stranger in the Lifeboat
Author: Mitch Albom
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 224 pages
Year of Publication: 2021
Price: Rp 315,000 (

Rating: 5/5
"It had survived. And witnessing survival can make us believe in our own."
After a deadly ship explosion, nine people struggle to survive at sea on a lifeboat. After three days, they spot a man floating in the waves. When they pulled him in, the stranger claims that he is the Lord. One of the survivors, Benji, recounts the events in a notebook that is discovered a year later when the empty lifeboat washes up on the island of Montserrat. The notebook then fall into the hands of the island's chief inspector, Jarty LeFleur—a man battling with his own demons, who will try to solve the mystery of what really happened to the survivors.
"But out here, adrift, you realize how often we take our placement on this earth for granted."
"In an interview, Laghari once said that, for all the schooling she experienced later in life, her first six years in the Bastani slums taught her the most important life lesson. When asked what that was, she said: 'Survive until tomorrow.'"
"This was the story he told himself, and the stories we tell ourselves long enough become our truths."
I fell in love with Mitch Albom's writing when I first read his book, Tuesdays with Morrie; since then, I've read every single book that he published afterwards because I just keep wanting for more. That's why when I found out that he has a new book coming out this year, I immediately put it on my to-read list and decided to read it right away when it's finally released. I went into this book not knowing what it's going to be about—I didn't even read the blurb beforehand; but somehow, I was instantly hooked right from the very first chapter, when the stranger who's pulled into the lifeboat claims that he is the Lord. I was very intrigued and I had a lot of questions in my mind—which urged me to quickly flip to the next page and read the rest of this thought-provoking story.
"If so, there is nothing we can do. Not about him. Not about Mrs. Laghari. Not about Bernadette. There is nothing we can do about any of this, I fear, except pray and wait to die."
"It is a unique suffering to be denied the thing your body most craves."
The story is told through three different kinds of chapters: the first one is the Sea, written from the perspective of our main character, Benji, one of nine people who managed to get in the lifeboat after the ship exploded. The second one is the Land, where Inspector LeFleur tries to unravel the mystery behind a notebook he discovered from a lifeboat washed ashore on the beach in Montserrat—one year after the explosion. The last one is the News, which make reports on the ship explosion and covered the identities and stories of the guests aboard that luxury yacht. I absolutely love the way this story is written because the chapters are short and each one always ends in a way that makes me want to know more. This book managed to keep me on the edge of my seat from start to finish and made me curious about all the mysteries regarding the characters and what really happened. The author revealed the mystery little by little, which increased the tension and intrigued me even further. There are also so many unexpected twists and turns in the plot that makes my jaw drop—which I obviously won't reveal in this review to avoid spoilers. The scenes when people in the lifeboat started dying one by one was extremely intense and gripping as well; it feels as if I was in the lifeboat with them witnessing all the horrific scenes that are happening at sea.
Now, let's talk about the characters. Among all of the survivors on the lifeboat, I think Geri is my favorite because she's so smart and resourceful. I truly admire her courage and skills which helped the others to survive longer. As for our main character, Benji, is a rather complex character because through his writing, he seems to have experienced a lot of hardships in life and struggles with something within himself. When the truth was finally revealed, it turns out Benji did a lot of things that came as a shock to me. Another main character in this book is Jarty LeFleur, the chief inspector of Montserrat where the lifeboat was found. Jarty decided not to believe in God anymore after his child drowned at sea—which is why finding Benji's notebook and reading his story about meeting the Lord fascinated him. I love how Benji's story managed to relieve Jarty from his emotional pain and enable him to let go of the past. And of course, the Lord's character is the most intriguing one among all. There are so many thought-provoking paragraphs that made me ponder and reflect. One of my favorite scenes is when the Lord challenged their beliefs; asking the survivors if they believe in Him when He gave them what they wanted. This part made me reflect  There are also moments when the Lord's actions were questionable. It is left unexplained until the end, which is sometimes what we experience in real life when we don't fully understand why God allow certain things (bad things) to happen.
"Worry is something you create."
"Why would we create worry?"
"To fill a void."
"A void of what?"
"Why? If I were God, I would have given up on me long ago."
"But you are not," he said, "and I never will."
This book totally gripped my attention from start to finish and definitely a page-turner! This is also a pretty quick read—especially with the short chapters, but they really pack a punch! I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful writing, all the intense moments, and the mysteries behind the characters. Reading this book reminded me a little bit of Life of Pi—which is also one of my favorite books, because it involves the struggle of surviving at sea. Even though the story has a religious aspect to it, I think people will still be able to enjoy it whether they are a believer or not—especially those who love Mitch Albom's writing. Mitch Albom has been one of my auto-buy authors and I'm looking forward to read more of his works in the future! 😊
"At that moment, I sensed my insignificance more than at any other moment in my life. It takes so much to make you feel big in this world. It only takes an ocean to make you feel tiny."
"This world can be a trying place, Inspector. Sometimes you have to shed who you were to live who you are."
"In the end, there is the sea and the land and the news that happens between them. To spread that news, we tell each other stories. Sometimes the stories are about survival. And sometimes, those stories, like the presence of the Lord, are hard to believe. Unless believing is what makes them true."
by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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