Monday, April 27, 2009

"The Noticer" by Andy Andrews---Book Review

From the author's site,
Orange Beach, Alabama, is a simple town filled with simple people. But they all have their share of problems – marriages teetering on the brink of divorce, young adults giving up on life, business people on the verge of bankruptcy, and many of the other obstacles that life seems to dish out to the masses.

Fortunately, when things look the darkest – a mysterious old man named Jones has a miraculous way of showing up. A man of indiscriminate age and race with white hair and wearing blue jeans, a white T-shirt and carrying a battered old suitcase, Jones is a unique soul with near angelic qualities. Communicating what he calls “a little perspective,” Jones explains that he has been given a gift of noticing things about life that others miss. In his simple interactions, Jones speaks to that part in everyone that is yearning to understand why things happen and what they can do about it.

Based on a remarkable true story, The Noticer beautifully blends fiction, allegory, and inspiration. It provides simple, yet powerful distinctions about love, relationships, value and integrity and will inspire readers to take that first step towards a major life change.

I am a new member of Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger program, and received The Noticer as my first book to review. I normally don't read much "self-help" or "personal growth" books, as I tend to find that they normally just repeat the same advice as the others, all the while sounding as though they've discovered some new secret to magically solve our problems instantly. "The Noticer" attempts to break that mold, and while it did cause me to pause and reflect momentarily, in the end, it amounted to a nice read that left me feeling as though something was still missing.

The book centers on an old man named Jones. The author, Andy, meets him while he is living under the pier and feeling pretty miserable about his life. Jones, with his infinite wisdoms, helps Andy to see things from a different "perspective" and enables Andy to walk down a path which ultimately leads to success. Jones is a mysterious drifter, and he happens to show up right when people need to hear his guidance. By some never-mentioned ability, Jones is able to see what areas of a person's life need a new perspective, and is always there to guide that person. He helps a couple on the brink of divorce and fixes their marriage in an astonishing few minutes. He reminds a very old woman that there is still much for her to live for, something which she hadn't learned in her many many years on Earth, but which Jones reminded her of, again in mere minutes.

While the surface lessons may have been good, the book lacked quite a bit of substance. It just didn't go deep enough for me, and the tidy ends to every story made this nonfiction work border on the too-good-to-be-true edge. The writing is a bit TOO simple at times, and conversations between characters did not feel real, but rather contrived and rephrased too formally.

Certain parts of the book which could have been developed into "AHA!" moments instead became "Duh!" ones. For example, Andrews writes, "If you concentrate your thoughts on what you don't have, you will soon be concentrating on other things you had forgotten you don't have- and feel worse!" It took some self-reflection and personal insight to really grasp that statement, because the author didn't continue delving into this. There are gems in this book, to be sure, but Andrews throws them at the reader in a drive-by of wisdom, and does not attempt to offer more than just short quotes we can refer back to.

The book is only 156 pages long, and while this does help it to move along at a steady clip, it also feels very rushed. The conclusion almost made me groan out loud at its saccharine-sweet closure. Yes, it does give great nuggets of insight and advice, but for me, it was too stiff, too perfect, and entirely too focused on saying way too much in too few words. Or, perhaps, Jones might suggest I just need a new "perspective".

1 comment:

  1. Great job , i love that you really expressed what you feel about the book !


About Me

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I first joined the Marine Corps in February of 1999. I was stationed at Camp Pendleton for three years and in Okinawa for one. I left active duty in 2003 and joined the Reserves that year. I had my first daughter in 2005, and moved from California to Massachusetts in 2006. I left the Marine Corps at that time, and had my second daughter in 2007. I reenlisted in the Corps in September of 2008 and went Active in 2009. I'm currently stationed back in California, loving the weather and the life!