All The Right Reads

Fiction Recommendation Experts

2023 Book REview: The Stranger in the Lifeboat

by Mitch Albom

A Contemporary, 2021 by Harper, 271 Pages 

What I Didn’t Like:

  • A bit preachy (take that with a grain of salt, of course). This is probably the most religious book Albom has written and it is obvious in the religion. It’s coming in strong. Take that as a content warning, if you must. 
  • Mildly predictable. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, when you take this kind of book into consideration. You go into an inspiration book like this for a reason and that often makes it mildly predictable. My problem, in this case, is with the stuff you shouldn’t have been able to predict. There are things in this one that seem like twists. But with the clues being peppered in and dropped all throughout the book, I wasn’t surprised by any of them. I was sort of just glad when someone figured them out. 
  • One big question left unanswered. No spoilers, so I won’t mention what it was, but I have to admit that I’m curious about it. For me, who likes things that will leave them thinking, this is actually a good thing. But if you like all your answers, this will be a negative point of this book for you. 

What I Did Like:

  • Great characters. Benji, in particular, is a fun gift to unwrap. He’s layered in pain and experience, just like the best of us. That makes him relatable in his imperfection and I loved him for that. 
  • Realistic struggles on the lifeboat. I love realism. It’s not just the hunger and thirst that will get you and that is explored in this one. There’s talk of sun exposure, battling with whether you could bring yourself to kill something for food, and even the struggle to stop yourself from drinking ocean water. That part of the story is wonderfully accurate (and, therefore, terrifying). 
  • I like the ending. Of course I also mention it as a negative because some people might not … but I like that there’s one (very important) question left unanswered that will keep me thinking about this book for a long time. Really, it’s a concept that can change the entire book if you focus on it enough. That’s fun!

Who Should Read This One:

  • Anyone struggling with religion or who enjoys books where a nonreligious character is faced with their (lack of) faith. 
  • Give it a shot if you truly like survival stories AND can handle a religious discussion from a main character. 

My Rating: 3 Stars

  • The religious angle is heavy in this one so I can’t recommend it to everyone, but if you like that in a book you’ll enjoy this one.

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