When you’re in a dire situation, does your faith have you calling upon God? Better yet, what would you do if He answered? For humanity, this will remain the eternal question nobody can answer resolutely because it seems so mind-boggling and impossible. In Mitch Albom’s new book, best-selling author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven, The Stranger in the Lifeboat, he tackles the question of what happens when you pray for something to happen, and the disbelief that comes when said person answers.
The story leaves one questioning their own belief in the Universe or God, making them question what’s real and what’s not. The story jumps between one of the survivors on the lifeboat, Benji, and the officer investigating the wreckage, Jarty, interspersed with coverage from news stations.
Benji is stuck on a lifeboat with a few members of the crew from the Galaxy (a luxury yacht) along with some of the richest people and inventors in the world as part of a mission to push forward change in the world, held by billionaire Jason Lambert. What the other surviving members on the lifeboat don’t realize is that Benji is harboring a secret about the accident that brought them all together – he might have been complicit in the explosion that sank the yacht in the first place.
On the island shore where the lifeboat washes upon, chief inspector Jarty LeFleur discovers something out of place in the empty wreckage, a notebook. Intrigued, he manages to open the carefully wrapped book to read some of the pages. In moments, he realizes it’s a journal from someone who had been on the boat. Foregoing protocol, he hides it from the other officers, caught up in the story Benji tells, reliving their final moments.
But Jarty stumbles onto something interesting in the notebook. While adrift in the vast ocean, Benji and the others save a man floating in the water. After they bring him aboard the boat, they ask him his name. In response, he replies, “I’m the Lord.”
At first, many of the passengers believe him but others, like Lambert, throw doubt into the mix, attacking the man verbally, denying the Lord’s abilities to save them. The man claiming to be God only tells them that if they can all believe He is who He says He is, then they’ll be saved. I’m sure you can figure out what happens.
Albom is known for these thought-provoking stories that make you question the world and your faith in humanity. His storytelling always weaves in situations that could happen, not only for the narrator of the journal (Benji), but a life-changing moment for Jarty as well. No matter what, by the end of the book, you’ll be changed. While Albom’s writing can become formulaic, the story he’s telling is still enjoyable.
The Stranger in the Lifeboat will make you question how you approach the world and your faith in humanity, even if you don’t consider yourself a religious person. As always, Albom brings out meaningful conversations between his characters that manage to sink deep into your psyche long after you’ve read the final page. And what better way to finish a book than to reflect on the path your life has taken and who you pray to when you’re in need of help?