Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews

David Ponder's lost his job, his confidence, and his will to live. And just when it seems that things can't get any worse, they do: his only child falls ill, and he's involved in a serious car accident. But a divine adventure that includes encounters with seven of history's most inspirational characters, among them Anne Frank, Abraham Lincoln, and Christopher Columbus, leaves him with a glimpse of life's big picture, and seven bits of wisdom with which to confront his future. This thought-provoking book encourages readers of all ages to reach their full potential using these simple keys to success.

My take: 2 looks
It is a great premise for a novel: Man loses his job, is faced with bills, and realizes that he is worth more dead than alive. It's typical "It's a Wonderful Life", but more heavy-handed and with more characters than one measly angel named Clarence.

Then there is "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom. A man dies and fails to see his worth, so he is met by five people whom his life changed in ways he never knew.

The Traveler's Gift does the reader a great disservice in that the end is sunshine and rainbows and that is simply not the way it goes sometimes. Sometimes your circumstance does matter. Sometimes forgiving others doesn't change the world. Sometimes persistence is a waste of time, especially if you are on the wrong track. This book is full of feel-good sound bites that do not translate seamlessly into real life.

For every Chamberlain, there were hundreds (if not thousands) of men who died in Gettysburg who felt just as passionate about being a man of action as he did. Anne Frank told him to choose to be happy. However, she forgot to tell him that anger which is just is also a tool that Jesus himself used for the benefit of the Kingdom of God. Abraham Lincoln told him to consider what others thought after Christopher Columbus told him not to pay attention to the opinions of others. And that was after King Solomon told him to surround himself with those whom he wanted to emulate.

And in the end, David Ponder catches a glimpse of himself as today's Joel Osteen or Tony Roberts, speaking feel-good fluff to an arena full of gullible people. I just had to roll my eyes when I read the part about David Ponder Boulevard. If you do all of these seven things, recommended by some of the most famous people in history, you will be successful. Believe that, and I've got some land to sell you.

Here are the seven that I would preach:
John D. Rockefeller: Work hard, rest often
Albert Einstein: Believe in something bigger than yourself
Nicola Tesla: Know that life is not about fair
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: Remember that "this, too shall pass"
Napoleon Bonaparte: Get that chip off your shoulder
Aristotle: Everything in moderation
Jesus of Nazareth: Strive to have very few regrets

While this book is a good story when it's not overly preachy or sunshine-and-rainbows, it is the latter so often that it is not recommended.

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