The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom reviewed

The Stranger in the Lifeboat Book Cover The Stranger in the Lifeboat
Mitch Albom
Little, Brown Book Group UK, Sphere
November 02, 2021

What would happen if we called on God for help and God actually appeared? In Mitch Albom’s profound new novel of hope and faith, a group of shipwrecked passengers pull a strange man from the sea. He claims to be “the Lord.” And he says he can only save them if they all believe in him.

Adrift in a raft after a deadly ship explosion, nine people struggle for survival at sea. Three days pass. Short on water, food and hope, they spot a man floating in the waves. They pull him in.

“Thank the Lord we found you,” a passenger says.

“I am the Lord,” the man whispers.

So begins Mitch Albom’s most beguiling and inspiring novel yet.

Albom has written of heaven in the celebrated number one bestsellers The Five People You Meet in Heaven and The First Phone Call from Heaven. Now, for the first time in his fiction, he ponders what we would do if, after crying out for divine help, God actually appeared before us? What might the Lord look, sound and act like?

In The Stranger in the Lifeboat, Albom keeps us guessing until the end: Is this strange and quiet man really who he claims to be? What actually happened to cause the explosion? Are the survivors already in heaven, or are they in hell?

The story is narrated by Benji, one of the passengers, who recounts the events in a notebook that is later discovered—a year later—when the empty life raft washes up on the island of Montserrat.

It falls to the island’s chief inspector, Jarty LeFleur, a man battling his own demons, to solve the mystery of what really happened.

A fast-paced, compelling novel that makes you ponder your deepest beliefs, The Stranger in the Lifeboat suggests that answers to our prayers may be found where we least expect them.

The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom

It’s a while since I read any of Mitch Albom’s books and I thought I’d give The Stranger in the Lifeboat a try. A very expensive “executive” craft has sunk. Nine people are still afloat 3 days later on a lifeboat having seen no one else. They see a man in the water and manage to get him onto the lifeboat. He says that he can save them if they all believe in him as he is the Lord. That gives you pause for thought doesn’t it! In part this story is told by one of the people on the lifeboat who is writing a journal. There are two threads in this story. One is from a policeman on land who has been taken to see what might be the lifeboat concerned and the other is the media via their interest in the story.

It didn’t take me long to get into this book and after that I was caught up in the story however odd it may seem. It is not a long read and is crisply written. From time to time I found myself wondering just where this might be going. Some of the threads seemed rather odd in the circumstances. That said I had some thoughts quite early on about a possible outcome and wasn’t far off the truth I guess. It’s one of those books where it would be a shame to reveal more.

In some senses this, and other books from Albom, are probably rather odd to some believers and unbelievers. Within that caveat I found this a convincing story I guess. Was it an enjoyable read – yes. Was it thought provoking – maybe. I would certainly read another by this author in the future and fans of his will be very pleased by The Stranger in the Lifeboat I think.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review