Albom’s new novel fails to deliver new story line

David Bolger

Story tugs at heart strings, yet follows earlier works

For One More Day, the latest release by Mitch Albom, the best-selling author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven, tells the story of Charley “Chick” Benetto, a desperate alcoholic on the verge of suicide who gets to spend one more day with his mother who died 8 years earlier.

Throughout his life, Benetto took his mother for granted. When she died, he quickly spiraled into a depression that drove away his wife and daughter.

“.and that’s the thing when your parents die,” Benetto says, “you feel like instead of going into every fight with backup, you are going into every fight alone.”

But at his most desperate moment, Benetto’s mother returns, giving him a chance to tell her everything he wanted to tell her before she died, and along the way, he sees how valuable his life really is.

Albom really shines as a writer when it comes to the more sentimental issues. In Benetto’s mother, we can clearly see reflections of our own mother. In Benetto, readers see reflections of themselves, and this keeps them engaged throughout the entire novel.

Albom has made a noticeable improvement with dialogue between 1997, the year Tuesdays with Morrie was released, and now. Having spent most of his career as a sports writer in Detroit, Albom’s earlier work tended to sound more like a newspaper article than a story. But with For One More Day, Albom seems to come into his own as a novelist.

At times, Albom does seem a little bit too sentimental for his, and the reader’s, own good. Its almost seems as if Albom contemplated putting a footnote at the end of some of the mushier parts of the novel that says: CRY HERE.

Like all of his early work, For One More Day reads very quickly — most readers will probably finish in about three hours — but because of his commercial success as a novelist, readers will pay about $22 for this book.

Readers will find nothing new as far as characters, setting and emotion in For One More Day. Although the story did flow well, Albom fans may find themselves asking, “Wasn’t that character in Tuesdays With Morrie?” Questions like these could be poisonous to a writer’s credibility. In fact, it’s almost as if Albom simply rewrote Tuesdays with Morrie using a different setting and different character names.

Albom’s redundancy and unwillingness to come up with anything we haven’t already seen in his earlier work is leading him dangerously close to Danielle Steele territory, which is frustrating for the reader because his breezy prose is proof that Albom really could be a great writer.

The bottom line is this: If you want something quick to read that requires very little time and effort, and something that may tug on your heart strings a little bit, pick this one up. It’s exactly what you’re looking for. If you are looking for enlightenment or at least something new and exciting, look elsewhere.

Contact ALL correspondent David Bolger at [email protected].


By Mitch Albom

Published by Hyperion

Stater rating: * * ½