Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: For One More Day

Title: For One More Day
Author: Mitch Albom
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: 2006
Source: Library
My Rating: 4/5

From Goodreads:  "Every family is a ghost story . . ."

Mitch Albom mesmerized readers around the world with his number one New York Times bestsellers, The Five People You Meet in Heaven and Tuesdays with Morrie. Now he returns with a beautiful, haunting novel about the family we love and the chances we miss.

For One More Day is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?

As a child, Charley "Chick" 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 the man disappear when Charley is on the verge of adolescence.

Decades later, Charley is a broken man. His life has been crumbled by alcohol and regret. He loses his job. He leaves his family. He hits bottom after discovering his only daughter has shut him out of her wedding. And he decides to take his own life.

He makes a midnight ride to his small hometown, with plans to do himself in. But upon failing even to do that, he staggers back to his old house, only to make an astonishing discovery. His mother, who died eight years earlier, is still living there, and welcomes him home as if nothing ever happened.

What follows is the one "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. Somewhere between this life and the next, Charley learns the astonishing things he never knew about his mother and her sacrifices. And he tries, with her tender guidance, to put the crumbled pieces of his life back together.

Through Albom's inspiring characters and masterful storytelling, readers will newly appreciate those whom they love—and may have thought they'd lost—in their own lives. For One More Day is a book for anyone in a family, and will be cherished by Albom's millions of fans worldwide.

My Thoughts:  This book has touched on many emotions for me. I find myself feeling sadness, anger, and regret. Not only was I drawn into Chick's story, but I was also forced to consider my own. While reading about Chick's relationship with his mother, I thought about my relationship (if you'd call it that) with my own mother.

For 22 years, my mom was fantastic. We were close. She was devoted to taking care of my two brothers and me. When I was 22, she suddenly changed. She left my father to be with another man and turned her back on her three children. In the last three years, I've attempted to maintain a relationship with her, only to be shot down again and again. Her significant other has become her main priority, despite the fact that he's mentally abusive towards her. I finally made the difficult decision to give up on her. There are only so many times a person can be rejected by one of the people who are supposed to never reject you.

A line in For One More Day stays with me. When Chick realizes his day with his mother is drawing to an end, he becomes upset that he will lose her. His mom says, "You can't lose your mother, Charley. I'm right here." This line was like a punch in the gut for me. I wish I believed it, but I just don't. I lost my mother. Sure, she lives about 20 minutes from me, but I've lost her. She's not a part of my life anymore.

I think this book also resonated with me, because I'm mere weeks from having my first child. I have these expectations of how I'll be as a mother. I know I don't want to be like my mother has been these last few years, and I never want my daughter to feel what I have felt.

I've often wondered what it would be like to have just one more day with my mom. Not a day with her as she is now, but a day with the way she used to be. I often imagine us going out for lunch or shopping. I think of how we talked all the time, discussing the events of our days. While I know that we may someday have a relationship again, I also know that it will never be the way it was. This makes me so very sad. I wish I had that again.

For One More Day is another example of how Mitch Albom's books cut you to the core. They aren't just food for the mind, but they are food for the soul, too. I find the writing to be simple, and I think this is best, especially given the thoughts and emotions evoked from the content. The story is simple, yet so full of meaning.

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