About Books #7: Have a Little Faith

So I recently wrote a review on Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Fun fact: I actually loved that one so much that I really wanted to read something else by this author. That turned out to be Have a Little Faith and suffice it to say – I was not disappointed 🙂

Unlike any of the books I previously discussed, this one is largely based on real facts. The way Mitch Albom describes it himself, is that everything that happens in the book did happen in real life, he might just have changed around the dates a bit. That being said, however, this kind of reads as if it were a fictional story.

I don’t mean that as in “it seems made up”, but more like “how do things like this still happen in the real, actual world – wow”. In the best way possible, naturally.

Story

This book is basically the story of one man’s route back to religion. Well, I guess I probably shouldn’t say “back”, because as he states at the beginning of the book, he never really was a practicing Jew. As a matter of fact, he even somewhat looked down on those people that did hold close to their religion:

I used to think I knew everything. I was a “smart person” who “got things done,” and because of that, the higher I climbed, the more I could look down and scoff at what seemed silly or simple, even religion.

It is more so that he finds back his roots, something he wanted to move away from throughout his childhood, and Judaism is just part of that. While doing so, he actually ends up making the world a better place – cliché as that may sound.

What I love most about the story? It shows you how one man evolves, but it doesn’t push you to make the same choices. It did, however, give the world thought-inducing quotes such as this, following the above phrase:

But I realized something as I drove home that night: that I am neither better nor smarter, only luckier. And I should be ashamed of thinking I knew everything, because you can know the whole world and still feel lost in it. So many people are in pain-no matter how smart or accomplished-they cry, they yearn, they hurt.But instead of looking down on things, they look up, which is where I should have been looking, too. Because when the world quiets to the sound of your own breathing, we all want the same things:comfort, love, and a peaceful heart.

Characters

This story is narrated by Mitch Albom himself, and quite frankly, he just sort of seems like everybody. You know, like the everyman kind of narrator? That basically seems like him. He’s not particularly special – not too religious, not too flashy, he’s just your Average Joe. Only he happens to be a writer and that has allowed him to do some pretty amazing things. Such as there are: help build a church – no biggy.

The start of this story takes place at an ending – that is, the ending of the Rabbi’s life. That Rabbi will hence be known as Reb 1, because naturally another person would have that same weird nickname. Anyways, that Rabbi says some of the wisest stuff ever and I’m not kidding when I say that. For example, you think marriage is one happy story?

“I think people expect too much from marriage today,’ he said. ‘They expect perfection. Every moment should be bliss. That’s TV or movies. But that is not the human experience.
. . . twenty good minutes here, forty good minutes there, it adds up to something beautiful. The trick is when things aren’t so great, you don’t junk the whole thing. It’s okay to have an argument. It’s okay that the other one nudges you a little, bothers you a little. It’s part of being close to someone.
But the joy you get from that same closeness–when you watch your children, when you wake up and smile at each other–that . . . is a blessing. People forget that.

In other words: kinda?

You want to focus on your earthly belongings?

When a baby comes into the world, its hands are clenched, right? Like this?” He made a fist. “Why? Because a baby not knowing any better, wants to grab everything, to say the whole world is mine. But when an old person dies, how does he do so? With his hands open. Why? Because he has learned his lesson.” “What lesson?” I asked. He stretched open his empty fingers. “We can take nothing with us.”

In other words: think again.

This Reb was the author’s Rabbi when he was still a kid, and has asked Mitch Albom to write his eulogy for when he dies. Throughout the meetings they have in order to get Mitch Albom enough to talk about, the two men develop quite the special relationship – the one that Mitch Albom almost refused to have when he was much younger and still fell under the Rabbi’s influence.

The other Reb seems to be almost an anti-thesis of the Rabbi: he’s a Christian priest, has had a difficult life to say the least, and is about as round as the Rabbi used to be tall and imposing. The one thing these two Reb‘s have in common however? They act in faith, and they both basically live this quote from the book:

Faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe.

Narration

Something I also gushed about in my review of Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven, is his writing. Seriously, this guy has a way of just sort of taking you along with him on whatever ride he’s decided to take you on.

That means absolute truths such as this:

Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say.

Beauties such as this:

I am in love with Hope.

And dialogues to make you think such as this:

“So, have we solved the secret of happiness?
“I believe so,” he said
Are you going to tell me?
“Yes.Ready?”
Ready.
“Be satisfied.”
That’s it?
“Be grateful.”
That’s it?
“For what you have.For the love you receive.And for what God has given you.”
That’s it?
He looked me in the eye.Then he sighed deeply.
“That’s it.”

Seriously. Think about it.

Overall: 5/5

As I posted on my Goodreads as soon as I finished this book: “I would like to take this book with me everywhere I go – I don’t think I’m ready to let go of it yet!” As of yet, I’m still not ready to let go of it. I actually re-read it in order to write this review and it still had me just going like “oh” *cue thoughtful stare out of the window*. Regardless of whether or not you would personally consider yourself a religious person, you should probably read this book.

Not so that you’ll suddenly be converted, but just so that you’ll be able to see the ways in which religion can work. Certainly with the way in which religion these days has ended up being (so often) a way to bring across hatred – going back to realise that religion can in fact be a good thing, might not necessarily be a bad thing.

My recommendation would definitely be to read this – I absolutely loved it and probably will re-read it again at least once this year.

If you do end up reading it? Be sure to let me know below what you think!

-Saar