Have I got a story for you…
(and by the way, here’s a link to my vlog!)
But then, it shifts, fairly quickly, toward a more thoughtful tone and outlook. After the main character Jim, a social worker, almost steps in front of a bus, he finds himself at his therapist’s office (I couldn’t help but wickedly grin at the irony), his best friend’s child’s birthday party, and soon enough, on a literal and spiritual journey.
Now, Jim’s near-suicidal experience isn’t just because of his recent (and devastating) break up from his long-time girlfriend. He’s also just generally feeling consumed by his own anxiety and depression. So, the breakup on top of his emotionally heavy caseload at work has done a number on his mental health. When his friend Jake tells him to take the keys to his cabin and spend some time recharging, Jim takes it. But first, he meets up with his old college professor Arjun Singh, who eventually comes along with Jim on his vacation.
This is then where the spiritual journey really begins. Together, they unpack concepts like “oneness,” forgiveness, love, and so much more. During both the literal and spiritual journey, they also meet Silas, a war vet-turned photo journalist and his dog Casey, who, somewhat unknowingly, aid Jim in his healing process while initiating Silas’s own.
I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll leave my summary at that. Now, for my thoughts…
I loved it!
It did take me slightly longer to read, and I know I’ve commented before that if a book took me a while to complete that I wasn’t as engaged, but this is different. The concepts in the book aren’t light, they’re heavy, they require thinking and reflection, I think that if you are at any particular crossroads in your life, this is a great book to help you step back and consider your situation from a new perspective.
Plosker combines journal entries with conversations–which kind of gave me Plato-Cave vibes in the style–in order to unpack these philosophical ideas. On that note, both Jim and Professor Singh are religious academics, so they often use that lens (well, a variety of religious lenses) to dissect these ideas. So, not only does this book serve as an interesting introduction into various philosophical ideas, it also serves as a (brief) introduction to a few different religious concepts as well.
On the more traditional note of novel-writing, I thought the characters were thoroughly well developed and the pacing was excellent.
The plot didn’t move too quickly or too slowly, so it really felt as though you the reader were spending time with Jim and Singh as they have their conversations. Plosker gave each character enough back story that they almost seemed like acquaintances and more than enough detail and time to develop them into relatable, empathetic characters. For instance, even though I have never felt quite enough anxiety or sadness (I truly don’t think I’ve reached the level of depression) I did empathize with Jim about his break up with Maya; similarly, though I have never lost a spouse, I have experienced loss in my life, so I could sympathize with Singh about losing his wife.
Overall, I think the book was just really well done, and also enjoyed the author’s note and reading group notes at the end. I think this would be a really interesting and excellent candidate for such a purpose.
Honestly, I think the only reason why someone might not enjoy it would be if they were just resistant to considering various philosophies. (Not that I think that’s a “good reason,” but I do think that mindset is important in reading books like this.) So, generally speaking, if you want to expand your thinking, and also want an enjoyable story, definitely give this a try.